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Full text of "Historic styles in furniture"

LIBRARY" 

UNIVERSITY 
CALIfOKM* 

SAN DIEGO 



Historic Styles 

in 
Furniture 




COLONIAL FURNITURE 
THE WEST PARLOR MOUNT VERNON 






HISTORIC STYLES 

IN 

FURNITURE 



By 

VIRGINIA ROBIE 




BOSTON AND NEW YORK 
HOUGHTOX MIFFLIX COMPANY 



1916 



COPYRIGHT, 1905, By 
HERBERT S. STONE 



PUBLISHERS' NOTE 

THIS account of " Historic Styles in Furniture " was 
originally issued ten years ago by the publishers of The 
House Beautiful magazine, mainly for special sale in con- 
nection with their publication. It received little exploi- 
tation in the general market, and its merits did not, 
therefore, become widely known. The present publishers 
have believed that there is a distinct place for this vol- 
ume, containing, as it does, a bird's-eye view of the 
development of styles in furniture through ten centu- 
ries, and giving the backgrounds and settings an equal 
importance with the furniture itself . 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PAGE 

I Furniture of the Middle Ages 3 

II Furniture of the Fourteenth Century 15 

III Furniture of the Fifteenth Century 25 

IV Furniture of the Italian Renaissance 35 

V Furniture of the French Renaissance 55 

VI Furniture Making in Germany and The Low Countries 71 

VII Furniture of the Spanish Renaissance 81 

VIII English Furniture of the Sixteenth and Seventeentn Centuries 85 

IX Louis XIV Furniture 99 

X Louis XV Furniture in 

XI Louis XVI Furniture 123 

XII English Furniture of the Eighteenth Century . 133 

XIII Furniture of the French Empire 157 

XIV Colonial Furniture i6<; 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAGE 

An Early Example of Gothic Furniture , 5 

Folding Chair, Late Middle Ages 7 

St. Peter's Chair 9 

English Coronation Chair 1 1 

Bedchamber, Castle Meran 17 

French Chest, Late Fourteenth Century 18 

German Chest, Late Fourteenth Century 19 

Tyrolean Table, Late Fourteenth Century 20 

Tyrolean Cupboard, Late Fourteenth Century 21 

Monastery Chair 26 

Hall, Late Middle Ages , 27 

French Gothic Panel 28 

Flemish Cupboard 29 

Anteroom, Castle Meran 31 

Sixteenth-century Chest of Drawers, Lucca 36 

Sixteenth-century Cabinet, Lucca 37 

Anteroom Chair of Walnut 38 

Gothic Chair, with Renaissance Details 39 

Bedchamber in the Vincigliata, Fiesole 40 

State Dining-room in the Vincigliata, Fiesole 41 

Renaissance Beamed Ceiling, Residence of Frederic C. Bartlett, Chicago 43 

Renaissance Coffered Ceiling, Residence of the late William C. Whitney, New York City 45 

Renaissance Carving 46 

Door of the Vatican, Dssigned by Raphael 46 

Carved Chairs, Lucca Museum 47 

Desk and Chair Used by Savonarola, Florence 49 

Screen of Intarsia 50 

Florentine Marriage Coffer 51 

A Fine Example of Renaissance Carving 51 

State Chair, Late Renaissance, Baroque Treatment 52 

Louis XII Fireplace, Chateau of Blois 56 

Renaissance Chair, Chateau of Blois 57 

Fireplace Built for Claude, Wife of Francois I., Chateau of Blois 59 

Fireplace, Gallery of Henri II, Fontainebleau 61 

Bedstead Belonging to Anne of Austria, Fontainebleau 62 

Renaissance Paneling, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 63 

Louis XIII Room, Fontainebleau 65 

Cabinet, Late Renaissance 67 

Cabinet of Dutch Marquetry 72 

Flemish Cupboard 73 

Hall in the Gruuhuse, Sixteenth Century 75 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



PAGE 

Room in an Old Dutch Home, Edam 76 

German Press, Typical Example of Renaissance Carving 77 

Spanish Chair, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston , 82 

Linen-fold Cupboard, Sixteenth Century 87 

Presence Chamber, Hardwick Hall, Elizabethan Period 89 

Dining-room, Jacobean Period 91 

Seventeenth-century Cupboard 92 

Chest of Drawers, Memorial Hall, Deerfield, Mass 93 

Tapestry Woven by Mary Queen of Scots 94 

Chair in Versailles, Regency of Anne of Austria 100 

Louis XIV Clock 101 

Boulle Console, Early Louis XIV 102 

Bureau, Late Louis XIV 103 

Example of Simple Louis XIV Furniture 105 

Headboard, Louis XIV Bedstead 107 

Gobelin Tapestry, Designed by Boucher and Tessier 112 

Louis XV Sofa Petit Trianon 113 

Louis XV Chair, Garde-Meuble 115 

Louis XV Arm-chair, Garde-Meuble 117 

Louis XV Clock 118 

Louis XVI Bedstead, Fontainebleau 125 

Louis XVI Cabinet, Fontainebleau 126 

Louis XVI Clock 127 

Writing-desk and Bureau-Toilette 128 

Louis XVI Chair, Petit Trianon 129 

Louis XVI Chair, Petit Trianon 130 

Chippendale Mirror 134 

Chippendale's Dutch Type, I 135 

Chippendale Chair, II 135 

Chippendale Arm-chair, III 136 

Ladder-back Chair, IV 137 

Chippendale Roundabout, V 138 

Chippendale Chair, French Manner, VII 139 

Shield-shaped Chair, Hepplewhite 140 

Hepplewhite Table 141 

Dining-room, Residence of Frederic C. Bartlett, Chicago 142 

Hepplewhite Sideboard 143 

Prince of Wales Chair, Hepplewhite 144 

Hepplewhite Table 145 

Adam Commode, Painted by Pergolesi 146 

Bracket and Vase for Candles, Adam Style 147 

Lock for a Cabinet Door 148 

Adam Mantelpiece, Decorated by Angelica Kauffman 149 

Sheraton Chairs 150 

A Fine Example of Sheraton's Work 151 



ILLUSTRATIONS 



Sheraton Drop-leaf Table 152 

Sheraton Chest of Drawers 152 

Sheraton Sideboard and Chippendale Mirror 153 

Roman Ceremonial Chair 158 

Bedroom of Napoleon I, Fontainebleau 159 

Empire Chairs and Divan, Compiegne 160 

Old Cradle, Brought over in the Mayflower 166 

Early New England Interior, Showing Pine Settle 167 

Seventeenth-century Chairs 168 

Wainscot Chair with Rush Seat 169 

Furniture of the Early Eighteenth Century 170 

Brass Clock, Seventeenth Century 171 

Flemish Chair, Salem, Mass 172 

Queen Anne Chair, Early Eighteenth Century 173 

Mahogany Low-Boy with Cabriole Leg and Club Foot 174 

Mahogany High-Boy with Scroll Top 175 

Corner Cupboard with Scroll Top 176 

Kitchen of the Whipple House, Ipswich, Mass 177 

Chippendale Roundabout Chair 178 

Washington's Bedchamber, Mount Vernon 179 

Rare Chippendale Chair 180 

Bedchamber, containing Four-poster and Wing Chair 181 

Four-poster, Late Eighteenth Century 182 

American Empire Table , , 183 

American Empire Sofa 184 

American Empire Sewing-Table 185 

Colonial Parlor 187 

Colonial Dining-room 189 



CHAPTER I 

FURNITURE OF THE MIDDLE AGES 

THE HISTORY OF FURNITURE IS SO THOROUGHLY A PART OF THE 
HISTORY OF THE MANNERS AND CUSTOMS OF DIFFERENT PEOPLES 
THAT ONE CAN UNDERSTAND AND APPRECIATE THE SEVERAL 
CHANGES IN STYLE, SOMETIMES GRADUAL AND SOMETIMES RAPID, 
ONLY BY REFERENCE TO CERTAIN HISTORICAL EVENTS AND 
INFLUENCES BY WHICH SUCH CHANGES WERE EFFECTED. 
FREDERICK LITCHFIELD. 



CHAPTER I 

FURNITURE OF THE MIDDLE AGES 

AS a record of manners and customs the illuminated missal is to the Middle 
Ages what the sculptured frieze is to ancient Greece and Rome. It repre- 
sents the earliest history of domestic life of mediaeval times. The Egyptians 
constructed their household furniture in stone, the Greeks and Romans in marble 
and bronze, and the people of the Middle Ages in wood. Setting aside coronation 
chairs and choir stalls few pieces of mediaeval handicraft are in existence. With- 
out the aid of old manuscripts all domestic furniture made prior to the thirteenth 
century would be a matter of conjecture. Thanks to these human documents a 
faithful, if crude, picture is obtained of the life of the tunes. Furniture is merely a 
detail in the old drawings; simply an accessory used by the scribe to illustrate a 
situation. If a royal banquet be the theme, a long, narrow table is suggested; if a 
coronation ceremony form the subject of the story, a chair of state is rudely indi- 
cated; if an interview between a knight and a lady be the main point in the tale, 
a bench or settle fills the background. Picturesque sidelights on customs and cos- 
tumes, as well as furniture, are revealed in the old illuminations. 

Broadly speaking the period termed the Middle Ages began with the fall of 
Rome and ended with the capture of Constantinople, but it was the great interme- 
diate stage, roughly spanned by the sixth and tenth centuries, which constituted 
the dark age of history and art. 

The British Museum contains illuminated manuscripts dating back to the ninth 
century. From these priceless records and from wills of the period the home of 
the Anglo-Saxon thane has been deciphered. Fragments from many sources have 
been fitted together and a fairly clear picture has resulted. 

The ham, or home, contained one large apartment called the heal which served 
as a dining, living, and sleeping room. Adjoining it was the bower, or chamber, 
reserved for the ladies of the household. The hall was sparsely furnished. A 
board laid upon a trestle formed the dining-table. Benches and stools were the 
common seats and were used by all members of the family, except the lord and his 
lady who occupied two rudely constructed chairs. The walls were hung with walh- 
rifts, or wall cloths, which served as a protection from wind and rain. The rafters 
were covered with a ceil cloth, from which our word "ceiling" is derived. In the 
center of the floor was the hearth, the smoke of the fire escaping through a louvre, 
or opening in the roof. Illumination was provided by torches and by a primitive 

3 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



lamp of horn, termed a cresset. The cresset lamp was a feature in English houses 
for many centuries and may still be found in rural districts. 

The bower contained a straw bed and a cyst, or chest. A curtain protected the 
bed and served to conceal the chest which was the most important article in the 
house. The chest, or coffer, was a characteristic piece of mediaeval handicraft, 
and the first piece of furniture to express the skill of the wood-carver and the metal- 
worker. The development of the chest, in its various guises of coffer, hutch, and 
bahut, forms an interesting phase of furniture-making. The cupboard, the dresser, 
the credence, the cabinet, and the bureau were all evolved from this primitive 
article. In early Anglo-Saxon times it was a strong box placed near the bed and 
large enough to hold the family valuables. In an age when one baron waged war- 
fare upon another it was important to have a receptacle always at hand where 
valuables could be stored, and, if necessary, easily transported. 

The homes of the common people of this period lacked the barest comforts. A 
bench and a chest and a few skins of wild beasts were the household effects of the 
masses. The bench was crudely constructed and without a back. The chest 
was of more careful workmanship and served many purposes. It w r as sometimes 
used as a seat, sometimes as a table, sometimes as a bed. It was the poor man's 
chief article of furniture and as such it remained until after the Norman Conquest. 
* The conditions of Europe were not such as to foster the gentle side of living. 
Two figures were pre-eminent: the monk and the soldier. One kept art alive; 
the other nearly exterminated it. Italy, France, and Germany were torn with 
wars, civil and ecclesiastical, and England, while more remote from the cause of 
conflict, was also more remote from the centers of civilization. Southern countries 
still preserved a few classic traditions. In the north they were long since extinct. 
As England was last to respond to the Renaissance so she was last to develop a, 
mediaeval art. At best it was a rude age even in the countries that came in touch 
with Greek and oriental influences. 

With the Norman Conquest came England's awakening to continental methods. 
With the invasion came French ideas in dress and manners. A more refined mode 
of living followed. Houses were fitted with the rude comforts which had been known 
on the continent for nearly a century. Walls received their first decorations. The 
skins of wild beasts, hung against the rafters to keep out the cold, gave place to 
pieces of rude tapestry. Fireplaces were fitted with Norman fire-dogs, and the 
blazing torches were superseded by branches of iron holding tallow candles. In the 
homes of the feudal lords dishes of metal increased the limited table service of wood 
and horn. 

In Ivanhoe a vivid picture is given of Cedric's castle, where French innovations 
found little favor: 

4 



FURNITURE OF THE MIDDLE AGES 



" In a hall, the height of which was greatly disproportioned to its extreme length 
and width, stood a long oaken table, formed of planks rough hewn from the forest, 
and which had scarcely received any polish. On the sides of the apartment hung 
implements of war and of the chase, and there were at each corner doors which gave 
access to other parts of the extensive building. The other appointments of the 
mansion partook of the rude simplicity of the Saxon period, which Cedric piqued 
himself upon maintaining. The floor was composed of earth mixed with lime and 
trodden into a hard substance. For about one quarter of the length of the apart- 
ment the floor was raised by a step, and this space, which w r as called the dais, was 
occupied only by the principal members of the family and visitors of distinction. 




AN EARLY EXAMPLE OF GOTHIC FURNITURE AS DE- 
PICTED IN AN OLD ILLUMINATION 

^ 

"For this purpose a table, richly covered with a scarlet cloth, was placed trans- 
versely across the platform, from the middle of which ran the longer and lower board 
where the domestics and inferior persons sat. Massive chairs were placed upon the 
dais, and over these seats and the elevated table was fastened a canopy of cloth 
which served in some degree to protect the dignitaries who occupied that distin- 
guished station, from the weather, and especially from the rain, which in some 
places found its way through the ill-constructed roof. The walls of this upper end 
of the hall, as far as the dais extended, were covered with hangings or curtains with 
some attempts at tapestry or embroidery. In the center of the dais were placed 
two chairs more elevated than the rest, for the master and mistress of the family. 
To each of these was added a footstool, curiously carved and inlaid with ivory, 
which mark of distinction was peculiar to them." 

The construction of houses changed little in the century following the Conquest. 
Norman names were given to various portions of the dwelling, but the general char- 

5 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



acter remained the same. The heal became the salla and the ham the manoir. The 
greatest innovation was the substitution of a built-in fireplace for the center hearth. 
In many homes the fire continued to be built in the old way, but where the thick- 
ness of the wall permitted the newer method was preferred. The bower, which 
was formerly built on the ground floor, was elevated to the second story and termed 
a soler, a term supposed to have been derived from the word sol. A new room 
called a parloir, or talking-room, was the most important addition to the house. 

The arrangement of the bedroom changed little, except that a wooden bed with 
curtains replaced the bed of straw. Hungerford Pollen in the hand-book of the 
furniture of South Kensington refers to the bedchambers of this period: "Bed- 
rooms were furnished with ornamental bed-testers and benches at the bed foot. 
Beds were made with quilts and pillows, and with spotted or striped linen sheets; 
over all was laid a covering of green sag, badgers' furs, the skins of beavers, or 
martens. A perch for tame falcons was fixed to the wall. A chair and a pro- 
jecting pole, on which clothes could be hung, completed the Anglo-Norman bed- 
room." 

The bench was a convenience in receiving visitors. The soler was used by the 
lady of the manor as a sitting-room until the parloir became a common feature of 
house-building. Furniture was more varied after the Conquest and included 
settles, arm-chairs, and folding seats. Thomas Wright, in treating of this period, 
states that our word "chair" is Anglo-Norman, and that the Anglo-Saxon term was 
sell or stol, the latter being retained in our modern word "stool." Fadestol was one 
name for a chair of state, a word which has been translated in modern French to 
fauteuil, and in English to arm-chair. The Norman table, as depicted in the Bayeux 
tapestry, is similar to the Saxon trestle design. It was placed in the hall and taken 
apart after the meal was finished. "Laying the board" was a matter of ceremony. 
Lines were sharply drawn in regard to the seating of the household. The lord and 
his lady occupied chairs, the retainers sat upon benches, and those lower in rank 
remained standing. The placing of the salt was a matter of consideration. "Above 
salt" or "below salt" indicated the social status of the guests. 

Furniture of this age, with the exception of the table, was slightly carved. 
Chests were the first pieces to receive decorative treatment and chairs came second. 
In the oldest manuscripts there is a suggestion of ornament in most of the furniture. 
Much of the decoration is impossible to classify, for it is too archaic to be defined, 
but a small portion may be assigned to one of the three great styles of the 
Middle Ages. 

Applied ornament during this period may be divided into three classes, Byzan- 
tine, Saracenic, and Gothic. The first two had little bearing on furniture-making 
of the north; the third had a close connection with all handicraft of the times. 

6 



FURNITURE OF THE MIDDLE AGES 




FOLDING CHAIR, LATE MIDDLE AGES 

Byzantine ornament was based upon geometrical patterns combined with animal 
and floral forms. Animals were used in a conventionalized manner and were 
of religious significance. The fish, the serpent, the bird, occur frequently, combined 
with the circle, the trefoil, and the quatrefoil. The circle was emblematic of Omnip- 
otence, the trefoil of the Trinity, and the quatrefoil of the four evangelists. Byzan- 
tine art originated in the fourth century \vhen the Emperor Constantine removed 
the seat of government from Rome to Byzantium. "The traditional Greek and 
Roman arts," says Richard Glazier, "were now assimilated with the arts of Persia 
and Syria, but molded and influenced by the new religion, giving the strong personal 
vitality, deep symbolism, which was so remarkable throughout the Byzantine 
period." Byzantium was changed to Constantinople, but the ancient name was 
perpetuated in the art of the period. Saracenic ornament was of oriental origin, 
and its influence was largely confined to countries that came in touch with eastern 
influence. Unlike Byzantine ornament, animal forms were excluded. Intricate 
interlaced lines and conventionalized leaves formed the basis of Saracenic decora- 
tion. Contemporary with the Saracenic movement were two schemes of ornament, 
having much in common with the oriental style. These were the Celtic and Scandi- 

7 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



navian. The beautiful patterns of the Celts, based on circles, triangles, and endless 
chains, and the bolder interlaced work of the Scandinavians, form two unique 
phases of mediaeval designing. The Celts used the serpent as a dominant motif 
while the Scandinavians gave special prominence to the dragon. 

These early schools of ornament had little bearing on the furniture-making of the 
period, but their influence on future wood-carving was so important that later 
results cannot be understood without a brief reference to them. Byzantine 
decoration was little fitted for domestic furniture and its use was largely confined 
to religious pieces. The famous chair of St. Peter at Rome, said to be the oldest 
piece of wooden furniture in existence, is an example of Byzantine work. It is 
inlaid in gold and ivory, in an intricate and beautiful manner, the details of which 
are lost in the illustration. The importance of Byzantine ornament from the view- 
point of furniture-making lies in the fact that the trefoil and the quatrefoil were 
continued in Gothic ornament, and in the newer guise became a part of furniture 
decoration for three centuries. 

In order to understand the significance of Gothic art and its bearing upon all 
handicraft of the period it will be necessary to consider the conditions that gave 
birth to this last and greatest of mediaeval styles. 

"In the latter part of the twelfth century church architecture was revolutionized 
by the Gothic school which originated in the north of France. The Romanesque 
type of building had long been the accepted form; the time was at hand for 
a change. As in all great innovations the new movement swung far from the 
old. The pointed, or Gothic, arch solved a problem of construction which 
the round or Romanesque arch failed to do, and finally, the enthusiasm of the 
people, inspired by the crusades, and the attempt to win the Holy Sepulchre, 
sought to express itself in new forms." 

It is not possible to affix a date to the first Gothic dwelling. Although to France 
belongs the honor of originating the school, Germany and Spain followed closely in 
her lead. In Germany, Romanesque architecture had reached a greater degree 
of excellence than, in any other country of the north, save France, and it was 
more than a century before the Germans equaled the French in the purity of their 
Gothic buildings. But the Germans held to the type longer and the exaggerated 
or "flamboyant Gothic" of the fifteenth century, which marked the decline of the 
art in France, was little known in the provinces beyond the Rhine. In Spain the 
pointed arch was combined with Moorish cupolas and Spanish minarets. It was 
not until the reign of Ferdinand III, the contemporary of Louis IX of France and 
Henry III of England, that Spain produced buildings that compared favorably 
with those of Burgundy and Normandy. Ferdinand defeated the Moors at Cor- 
dova and Seville, united the kingdoms of Leon and Castile, and restored the church 



FURNITURE OF THE MIDDLE AGES 




(sl E3 03,0 Eg] 



- :.- . - . 

^ * - "- ' ''' 



ST. PZTEH8 CHAIR 



to Christianity. Under his patronage the 
fine arts flourished. The magnificent 
cathedral at Toledo, modeled on Notre 
Dame, and the smaller one at Burgos 
were erected during his reign. 

Italy, the stronghold of Romanesque 
and Byzantine traditions, was little influ- 
enced by the Gothic wave during this cen- 
tury. I^ngland, now closely in touch with 
France, early felt the impulse and having 
few classic prejudices to overcome, was 
ripe for a rapid architectural development. 
The cathedrals of Durham, Peterborough. 
Norwich, and Canterbury show the beauty 
of the early northern school. Although 
Gothic construction was confined for 
nearly fifty years to church edifices 
it was not destined to remain sim- 
ply religious in character. Gradually- 
royal dwellings were altered to admit of traceried windows, arched doors, and 
foliated carvings, and by the latter part of the thirteenth century the homes of the 
common people were built on similar principles. Furniture of all historic epochs 
is more or less a reflection of the prevailing architecture, and this was never more 
clearly demonstrated than during the Gothic period. Chairs and tables, benches 
and chests, all followed in design or decoration the lines of the pointed arch. 

Great changes had taken place in the furnishings of houses. The crusades 
had opened an intercourse with the orient, and the seaports of France, Italy, and 
Spain were engaged in active commerce with the east. Sovereigns of this century, 
with a few exceptions, married foreign queens, and thus the manners of one country 
were introduced into another. In England three of the Plantagenet kings had 
wedded French princesses and as each in turn inaugurated French customs there 
was little of Saxon simplicity at the English court. The barons and retainers, 
eager for royal approval, patterned their homes as closely as possible on Norman 
standards. 

It remained for Eleanor, of Provence, queen of Henry III, whose wardrobe and 
furniture filled three ships, to exert an influence which was felt in the homes of the 
people. During her reign the use of tapestries, hitherto confined to the palace and 
to the halls of the barons, became general, and added greatly to the comfort and 
beauty of interiors. Tapestries, or dorsels, as they were sometimes called from their 

9 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



ecclesiastical origin, were both woven and embroidered. The former were usually 
of small and intricate patterns, Byzantine and Gothic in character, and were imported 
from the tapestry-weaving districts of the Loire. The latter, while crude in work- 
manship, were more original in treatment. Thirteenth-century ladies in England 
and France spent many hours over the tambour frame depicting hunting and battle 
scenes, "jousts," and tournaments. These unique specimens of handiwork were 
modeled on the famous Bayeux tapestry, woven by Queen Matilda and her ladies in 
waiting. 

During Eleanor's reign wood paneling was introduced into Windsor Castle, and 
the halls of the manor houses were further enriched with Gothic carvings and mural 
decorations. Furniture in England had already responded to Gothic tendencies, 
and the massive chairs reserved for state occasions, and the simpler settles for daily 
use, were ornamented in the style that had found favor on the continent. No 
furniture of Henry's time has been preserved, but a celebrated piece of Gothic 
carving of the following reign is now in existence. The coronation chair in West- 
minster, made famous by a long line of monarchs, was first used when Edward 
Plantagenet ascended the throne. 

Prince Edward was on the continent fighting the French when he received the 
tidings of his father's death. He remained to vanquish his foes, returning the fol- 
lowing year, in the summer of 1274, to take possession of the English throne. 

With the exception of Mary Tudor and William III, every English sovereign 
from Edward I to Edward VII has been crowned in this historic relic. William 
III and his queen were crowned together in a chair made expressly for them, and 
Queen Mary received a chair from the pope especially blessed for her accession. 

Made of oak and covered with heavy gilding "Edward's chair" was the work 
of a Florentine artist, employed at Guildford Castle, who builded better than he 
knew. Beneath the seat and supported by lions is a rough-hewn stone which has 
the tradition of being the identical one which Jacob used as a pillow at Bethel. The 
lions are modern and are inferior to the rest of the workmanship. Aside from this 
venerated piece of furniture, so associated with English history, little remains of 
early Gothic handicraft in England, except that which is ecclesiastical in character. 

A few of the royal chests and coffers of the late thirteenth and early fourteenth 
centuries are in existence, and are interesting specimens of wood-carving and metal 
work. Hinges and locks are intricately chased with trefoils and quatrefoils, and 
sometimes ornamented with heraldic devices. A chest executed during the reign 
of King John is described as being "of oak, richly decorated with iron plates and 
hinges"; another of similar date, "of oak, decorated with wrought-iron locks and 
clamps and with basses of metal, on which are enameled escutcheons"; another "of 
carved cypress, inlaid with ivory and mosaics, and having clasps of wrought silver." 

10 



FURNITURE OF THE MIDDLE AGES 



The dower chests of Eleanor, of Pro- 
vence, although recorded as being of un- 
usual beauty, have not survived. A coffer 
belonging to the queen of Edward I, who 
was of Spanish birth, is now in the British 
Museum. It is of dark wood, painted in 
Moorish style, and the colors still retain 
something of their early brilliancy. The 
hinges are of iron, heavily ornamented, 
and the locks display the arms of Castile. 

With her chests the Spanish princess 
brought Spanish ideas, and thus a third 
element was added to the Norman- 
Saxon court. Moorish carpets, decorated 
leather from Aragon, brass hanging-lamps 
and Sevillian pottery were among her 
possessions. An inventory of the royal 
household of this period contains "pitch- 
ers of gold, plates and dishes of silver, 
gold salts, alms bowls, silver hanapers or 
baskets, a pair of knives with enameled 
silver sheaths, a fork of crystal and a 
silver fork with handle of ebony, and a 
looking-glass of silver." "Oizer mats" 
are mentioned, and- were used by King 
Edward and his queen as cushions when 
they sat at table. Furniture was more 
varied during this reign and included linen-presses, armoires, and dressoirs. 




ENGLISH CORONATION CHAIR, SHOWING THE 
ARCH AND THE QUATREFOIL 



11 



CHAPTER II 

FURNITURE OF THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY 

CHARACTERISTICS OF THE STYLE: THE POINTED ARCH, THE TREFOIL, 
THE QUATREFOIL, AND SIMPLE TRACERY. FURNITURE WAS MASSIVE 
AND GOTHIC TREATMENT WAS CONFINED TO DECORATION, CON- 
STRUCTION BEING LITTLE AFFECTED BY IT DURING THIS CENTURY. 



CHAPTER II 

FURNITURE OF THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY 

GOTHIC furniture reached its highest development in the fourteenth century. 
The exaggerations that characterized the work of the late Gothic school, 
when grotesque heads and distorted animals were introduced into many 
forms of carving, were unknown at this time. The furniture of this period held to 
a few vital principles and these were embodied in the plainest as well as in the most 
elaborate pieces. The trefoil and the quartrefoil used in connection with the pointed 
arch, were the chief motifs in wood-carving. The tracery was simpler than in 
the designs of the succeeding century when furniture-makers followed the lead of 
the architects, and used ornament with a lavish hand. 

Chests were still important items in household inventories, but their original 
supremacy was over. In their wake followed a host of pieces, the very names of 
which are now obsolete. Standards, bahuts, and hanapers were all a development 
of the chest, but each had its special significance and each its particular place. 
Standards held implements of the chase, bahuts belonged to the housewife and 
contained stores of linen, and in hanapers were concealed the family valuables. 

Cupboards, literally meaning "boards containing cups," came into use during 
this period, and furniture was further supplemented by the credence which was of 
church origin. Like the -dressoir it served the purpose of a buffet or serving table. 
Viollet-le-Duc illustrates a credence of the late Gothic period which contains four 
shelves, arranged like steps, each one filled with gold and silver vessels. The 
dressoir was of simpler form, and a less costly article. The dresser as a piece of 
dining room furniture still retains its original significance. The use of the word 
to designate a dressing-table or a bureau is modern and quite incorrect. 

The distinction between a press and a cupboard was in the beginning clearly 
defined. The cupboard was made without doors and was scarcely more than a shelf 
on a trestle. In the fifteenth century the cupboard, the press, and the armoire 
were more nearly alike. The significance of the word armoire is somewhat obscure, 
and one upon which writers on furniture are not agreed. Frederick Roe, in his 
book, Ancient Coffers and Cabinets, suggests that the original purpose of the 
piece of furniture thus designated, was to hold armor. 

During the fourteenth century the hall retained its feudal character. Life had 
grown more luxurious, but the general plan of the house was unchanged. In the 
manor house a " withdra wing-room " was added to the lower story, taking the 

15 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



place of the Norman parloir. The modern drawing-room is an evolution of this 
early apartment which was primarily for the use of the mistress of the house. 

The bedroom was furnished with more comforts and showed a greater change 
than any other portion of the home. The bed had become a bedstead in the usual 
acceptance of the term. The original meaning of the word "bedstead" was "place 
for a bed." During the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, except among the opulent, 
sleeping arrangements were very primitive. Testers were introduced at the time 
of the Conquest, and "tester beds," or "tent beds," are mentioned by early histo- 
rians. During the fourteenth century the bedstead assumed another character 
and was often the most ornamental piece of furniture in the house. Some of the 
Gothic beds suggest carved cages, others are fine examples of wood-carving, and 
show a beauty of construction unknown in the canopy beds of a later date. A fine 
example of a Gothic bed is seen in the bedchamber of the Castle Meran, located 
in the German Tyrol. A large portion of this stronghold dates from the twelfth 
century, but the room illustrated here is of a later period. The doors and 
windows show the pure Gothic arch and the furniture exhibits the simple tracery 
which was such a beautiful feature of wood carving of this period. 

A new article of furniture in the shape of an elevated chest, the cabinet of a 
later day, came into vogue about the middle of the century and was of Italian 
origin. Chairs, with the exception of folding-stools, were of huge proportions, and 
were made more massive by the addition of wooden canopies. Tables, on the 
other hand, were exceedingly simple, and formed a striking contrast to the rest 
of household furniture. They were made solely for utility, and outside of Italy 
were overlooked by the decorator. In design they were long and narrow, but the 
trestle supports of the previous century had given place to more careful workman- 
ship. One form of table was made with the "bolt and slot construction," a modern 
term expressing mediaeval methods. This table is chiefly interesting inasmuch as 
it show r s how closely arts and crafts workers have copied early designs. 

While all handicraft of this period was marked by beauty of design and honest 
workmanship each country excelled in certain lines. The Italians led in the han- 
dling of low relief and in the application of color to ornament. Their work, partic- 
ularly that of the Florentines, was characterized by great delicacy of feeling. The 
Germans were especially skilled in the execution of elaborate floral and heraldic 
motifs. The locks, hinges, and keys of cupboards and presses received as much 
attention as the carving of the wood, and often formed an important part of the 
decoration. The French, from the first, were a nation of furniture-makers, and 
although their handicraft lacked the exquisite finish of the Italians it fully equaled 
the work of the south in beauty of design. 

The Swiss were adepts in wood-carving and the Tyrolese, in this century, de- 

16 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 




FRENCH CHEST, LATE FOURTEENTH CENTURY 

veloped a unique school of ornament. Their furniture was partly French, partly 
German in character, and yet with certain qualities peculiar to itself. The Scan- 
dinavians were masters of a rude style of carving, half religious, half mythological, 
in subject. The work of the Danes was patterned after that of the Germans, as 
was also that of the Austrians. The Russians, until the beginning of the Romanoff 
dynasty, followed Byzantine canons, and the Poles and the Hungarians followed 
the Russians. The Dutch and the Flemings lagged behind the other nations in 
the art of furniture-making. It was not until the sixteenth century that they 
equaled either the French or the Germans in this particular. But Flemish and 
Dutch furniture remained beautiful and individual long after that of the French 
had become exaggerated and absurd. The Spaniards never adopted the Gothic 
style pure and simple in either their home architecture or their furniture. Spain, 
at this time, was a power on the high seas, and Spanish woodwork combined the 
designs of many countries. The Portuguese, when not at war with the Spaniards, 
copied them slavishly. The English selected the best of all that Normandy and 
Flanders sent to their shores and made it their own. 

The fourteenth century inaugurated a new era in domestic architecture. The 
religious enthusiasm of the people, inspired by the crusades, was over, and the zeal 
which was previously lavished on churches was now expended on dwellings. The 
origin of many famous castles in England and France may be traced to this activity. 

18 



FURNITURE OF THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY 




GERMAN CHEST, LATE FOURTEENTH CENTURY 

The rapid progress of home architecture was not confined to the dwellings of the 
nobility. The improvement in the houses of the middle classes was no less remark- 
able. Hand in hand with the outward betterment went an inward transforma- 
tion. The comforts which were known hitherto only in the homes of the opulent 
were now to be found in humbler circles. Class distinctions were more sharply 
drawn , but class privileges were extending. So prosperous did the trades-people 
of Paris become that an edict was passed by Charles the Fair limiting the 
household possessions of half the Parisians. No bourgeois could use wax candles 
or sleep under a canopy of gold Genoa cloth. A similar law in England, framed 
under Edward III, regulated the number of tapestries that a merchant might hang 
in his house and the number of yards of Flanders embroidery his wife might wear 
on her gown. In England the law was made in order to exclude French and Flemish 
merchandise and to compel the people to patronize home industries. In France 
it was passed to hold in check the growing ambitions of the trades-people and to 
prevent their encroaching on the rights of their superiors. 

The fourteenth century was an important one in England's history. The 
cowardly Edward II was succeeded by the illustrious Edward III, and during 
the latter's long reign events took place at home and abroad that exerted a powerful 
influence on England's future. The victories of Cre*cy and Poitiers were not more 
memorable than certain acts of Parliament; less so, perhaps, than that measure 
passed in 1362, which established the English language as the speech of the nation. 
The use of French was discontinued at court and Norman customs went out of fashion. 

19 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 




The long siege with France 
had brought about a reaction 
in favor of English produc- 
tions. Edward's marriage to 
Philippa of Hainault had 
strengthened the tie between 
England and Flanders, but 
as the war across the channel 
progressed, and the Flemings 
were drawn into the conflict, 
TYROLEAN TABLE this friendship cooled. Com- 

merce ceased with Flanders 

and the king framed laws to prevent the sale of Flemish articles. These royal edicts 
fostered the home arts, and English houses were furnished with home-made articles. 
Many of the finest baronial halls of England and Scotland were built in part 
during the reign of Edward III. Savoy Castle on the Thames, erected by the earl 
of Richmond in 1245, was remodeled a century later by the first duke of Lancaster 
who spent a fortune on it. Here, after the battle of Poitiers, resided the captive 
king, John of France, here came on many occasions that idol of the people, the 
Black Prince, and here Chaucer lived for a year as the guest of John of Gaunt and 
his wife, the young duchess of Lancaster. Chaucer composed many of his most 
famous poems at Savoy, and met within its doors the fair Lady Philippa, whom he 
afterward married. John of Gaunt maintained a style of living surpassed only 
by that of the royal family. The tapestries, furniture, paintings, and plate of Savoy 
were, according to an old writer, "as fine as anything in Christendom." Part of 
the architecture of Haddon Hall is late fourteenth century. The great banquet- 
room still retains its Gothic woodwork and its traceried windows, built by the 
Vernons, who owned the estate at that time. Lynes in Cheshire, erected on ground 
granted by the king to Sir Petryn Leigh, for valor displayed at Crecy, is a stately 
pile, and has preserved something of its first semblance. Cotehile in Cornwall, 
Glamis in Scotland, and Norworth Castle on the Border, the latter first occupied 
by Percy Hotspur, the hero of Chevy Chase, all trace their grim walls and grim 
histories to the time of the third Edward. Hardly less renowned is Sizergh Hall 
in Westmoreland, bearing on its crenelated tower a sculptured shield with the 
quarterings of the d'Aincourts and the Stricklands. This bit of English heraldry 
is unusual, as it is one of the earliest examples of the placing of the arms of the 
wife before those of her husband a custom unknown before the fourteenth century. 
Sizergh Hall in Queen Elizabeth's reign was famous for its beautiful woodwork and 
furniture. The paneling of one room in this old castle is now in the Kensington 

20 



FURNITURE OF THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY 



Museum, and ranks as one of the finest examples 
of its day. 

In Penshurst, near Tunbridge Wells, the great 
entrance hall has not been altered since it was 
built by Sir John de Poulteney who was four 
times lord mayor of London, and who was noted 
"for his public charities, magnificent housekeep- 
ing, and splendid achievements." From Sir John 
it passed to the duke of Bedford, then to the 
duke of Gloucester, and later to Buckingham. In 
1447 it became the property of the crown, was 
bestowed upon Sir William Sydney by Edward VI., 
after the battle of Flodden Field, and descended 
from him to Sir Philip Sydney, with whose name 
the fame of Penshurst is chiefly associated. Many 
descriptions of the ancient hall have been given. 
"The pointed timbered roof is supported by a 
series of grotesque corbels, each the size of life," 
says a writer of the early eighteenth century. 
" The screen of the gallery is richly carved and 
paneled. The minstrel's gallery fills the side op- 
posite the da'is. The Gothic windows are narrow 
and lofty. Every object calls to mind a feudal 
age. The oak tables on which retainers feasted 
still occupy the hall/,' 

In striking contrast to this English interior of 
the fourteenth century is M. SauvaFs description 
of an apartment in the Hotel de Boheme, erected 
by Charles V and occupied in 1388 by the duke 
of Orleans. "I shall not attempt," he writes, "to 
speak of the cellars and wine-cellars, the bake- 
houses, the fruiteries, the salt-stores, the fur-rooms, 
the porters' lodges, the guard-rooms, the wood- 
yard, or the glass-stores ; neither shall I describe the 
tapestry-room, the linen-room, nor indeed any of the 
various conveniences which were then to be found 
in the yards of this place, as well as in the abodes 
of other princes and nobles. I shall simply remark 
that, among the many suites of rooms which com- 

21 




TYROLEAN CUPBOARD, LATE FOUR- 
TEENTH CENTURY 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



posed it, two occupied the first and second stories of the main building. The first 
was raised some few feet above the ground floor of the court, and was occupied by 
Violet of Milan and her husband, Louis of Orleans. Each of these two suites of 
rooms consisted of a great hall, a chamber of state, a large chamber, a wardrobe- 
room, and a chapel. The state chambers were eight toises, that is, about fifty and 
a half feet long. The duke's chambers were six toises and a half square, and lighted 
by long and narrow windows of wire work, with Gothic trellis work of iron. The 
wainscots and the ceilings were made of Irish wood, the same as in the Louvre. 
Among the ornamental furniture were a large vase of silver for holding sweetmeats 
and a fine wooden casket covered with vermilion cordovan, nailed and bordered 
with a narrow gold band and shutting with a key." 

The ancient chronicle of M. Sauval would be incomplete without a reference 
to the gorgeous Spanish leathers in Boheme. "In this palace," he continues, "there 
was a room used by the duke, hung with cloth of gold bordered with vermilion 
velvet, embroidered with roses. The duchess had a room hung with vermilion 
leather decorated with cross-bows, w r hich were her coat of arms. That of the duke 
of Burgundy was hung with cloth of gold, embroidered with windmills. There were, 
besides, eight carpets of glossy texture, with gold flowers, one representing the 
seven virtues and seven vices, another the history of Charlemagne, another that 
of Saint Louis. There were also cushions of gold, twenty-four pieces of vermilion 
leather of Aragon, and four carpets of Aragon leather." 

Few descriptions of the homes of the people are on record. Litchfield, 
in writing of a French house of this period, states that chests, more or less 
carved and ornamented with iron work, settles of oak and chestnut, stools or 
benches with carved supports, a bedstead and a prie-dieu chair, and a table with a 
plain slab, supported on standards, would nearly complete the furniture of the chief 
room in the house of a well-to-do merchant. 



22 



CHAPTER III 

FURNITURE OF THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY 

CHARACTERISTICS OF THE STYLE I THE LATE GOTHIC ARCH, THE QUA- 
TREFOIL, THE CINQUEFOIL, AND A MORE COMPLICATED SCHEME 
OF CARVING. FURNITURE SHOWED GRACEFUL OUTLINES, BUT 
TOWARD THE END OF THE CENTURY. BECAME TOO HEAVILY 
ORNAMENTED FOR BEAUTY. ANIMALS AND GROTESQUE HEADS 
WERE COMBINED WITH GOTHIC DETAILS AND THE CHARM OF 
THE EARLIER PIECES VANISHED. 



CHAPTER III 

FURNITURE OF THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY 

THE fifteenth century was a period of transition. It marked the end of the 
Middle Ages and the beginning of modern history. The keep, the draw- 
bridge, the embattled tower, had no part in the architecture of the day, 
and with their passing the mode of living was greatly altered. The hall 
ceased to be the point about which the life of the house centered. It was no longer 
the scene of activity. The dais, the minstrels' gallery, the long tables for the re- 
tainers, lost their significance. Dining in public went out of fashion. The lord 
of the manor added a room to the great hall and dined with his family in privacy. 
Life was more luxurious, but less picturesque than in an earlier and ruder age. 

The century that witnessed the waning of medievalism was one of great progress. 
The invention of gunpowder revolutionized war, that of the compass increased 
navigation, and that of printing ushered in the dawn of a new era. It was an epoch 
of stirring events that included the wars of the Roses, the conquest of Granada, 
the expulsion of the Moors from Spain, the capture of Constantinople, and the 
discovery of America. 

Architecturally the fifteenth century had less to its credit than the fourteenth. 
Houses embodied the characteristics of the late Gothic, and while there was a 
greater variety of material used than at any previous time buildings showed 
less constructive skill. 

The chateau of Langeais, the Cluny, and the famous house of Jacques Coeur at 
Bourges, are typical French dwellings of this period. Hurstmonceaux Hall, in 
Sussex, erected by Sir Roger Fiennes, treasurer of the household under Henry VI, 
and Tattershall Castle, in Lincolnshire, built by Ralph, Lord Cromwell, treasurer 
of the exchequer under the same sovereign, are notable examples of English archi- 
tecture of the day. Both are of Flemish brick, with stone trimmings and were the 
first mansions built in England of this material. Houses of this age were not 
distinctive types. They were links between the fortified buildings of feudal 
times and the more comfortable homes of the Renaissance, and are chiefly inter- 
esting from the historical point of view. 

The furniture of the early fifteenth century did not differ materially from that 
of the fourteenth. Designs remained strong and simple and ornament was a means, 
not an end. But the day of Gothic simplicity was nearly over, and by the middle 
of the century the fate that had overtaken the architects pursued the furniture- 

25 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



makers. Ornament was piled upon ornament until the original beauty was entirely 
effaced. Skill of hand remained; the brain back of the hand had deteriorated. 

A waving form of ornament resembling a tongue of flame supplanted the geomet- 
rical tracery, while cinquefoils took the place of the earlier trefoils and quatrefoils. 
This flaming motive had dominated church architecture, to its great detriment, 

for more than a hundred years and 
had given rise to the terms, Flam- 
boyant, in France. Flowing, in Eng- 
land, and Fischblase, in Germany. 
Wood-carvers sought to surpass each 
other in the elaboration of this theme, 
and in fantastic combinations of 
foliage, grotesque animals, and figures. 
Chairs more than any other pieces 
of furniture suffered at the hands of 
the artisan. Built on severe lines 
they were little adapted for the over- 
loaded system of decoration. Chests 
and cupboards, while lacking the sim- 
plicity which had hitherto been their 
chief charm, were by their construc- 
tion less injured by complicated orna- 
ment. Many of the finest specimens 
of fifteenth-century woodwork were in 
the form of presses and cupboards. 
Bedsteads were too cumbersome in 
design, and, except in the homes of 
the lower classes, too ornate to be 
interesting. Tables had altered little in shape or purpose and were the sole articles 
of furniture to conform to severe lines and to unadorned surfaces. 

It was an age of exaggeration in furniture and scarcely less so in dress. The 
pointed cap, so long a feature of medieval fashion, rose to enormous heights, and 
shoes were so elongated that walking with ease became a fine art. At the French 
court, ladies in formal attire could not pass through an ordinary doorway without 
lowering their heads, and the followers of Charles VII were obliged to walk three 
feet apart in order to have sufficient space for the long and tortuous points of their 
shoes. 

The resemblance between the architecture and the furniture of historic periods, 
is plainly discernible. The similarity that costumes bear to both might also be 




ENGLISH MONASTERY CHAIR, FIFTEENTH CENTURY 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



cited. Many parallels could be drawn between Louis XIV furniture and the 
gorgeous dress of that day, between the more ornate furniture of the reign of Louis 
XV and the greater extravagance in fashions, between the simpler Louis XVI 

furniture and the return of the French 
court under Marie Antoinette to a more 
refined mode of dress, between the 
classical furniture of Napoleon's time 
and the severe gowns of the empire, 
and between the stately furniture of 
the colonial period and the equally 
stately costumes. So long as the 
pointed arch remained a vital force in 
architecture, furniture and dress re- 
flected in a greater or less degree Gothic 
principles. This period included three 
centuries and might well be called the 
Pointed Age. 

No strikingly novel pieces of furni- 
ture were evolved during the fifteenth 
century. New methods entered into 
construction and new effects were 
gained by combining different woods. 
English and German oak, French chest- 
nut, Italian walnut, and Spanish cypress 
had long been famous, but their use 
was confined largely to the countries in 
w r hich they were produced. But now 
woods were imported extensively, and 
we find Spanish cabinet-makers experi- 
menting in the walnut of Italy, Italian 
artisans using the olive and cypress of 
Spain, French furniture-makers turning 
to Flanders and England for oak, and 
to the southern countries for the 

softer woods, and English workmen, while clinging mainly to oak, adding French 
chestnut and Spanish olive and cypress. 

Italian walnut was as hard as oak and almost as enduring. Many of the choicest 
examples of the cabinet work of this period, found in museums and private collec- 
tions, are in this beautiful dark wood. It was better adapted than oak for the 

28 




FRENCH GOTHIC PANEL 




FLEMISH CUPBOARD 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



lighter pieces of furniture, and its exquisite grain yielded a more graceful form 
of ornament. In the hands of the Italian and Spanish craftsmen it became an 
ideal medium. 

In Florence and Vargos were fashioned those chests and cupboards which placed 
the work of the south so far above that of the north. The Florentines had long 
demonstrated their ability, and in this century the people of Vargos nearly equaled 
them. Vargueno furniture was as celebrated as Cordovan leather. 

Flamboyant architecture had made little progress in Spain and Spanish furni- 
ture was free from the absurdities found in the furniture of the north. Moorish 
traditions were deeply rooted and designs exhibited Saracenic rather than Gothic 
influence. Gothic motifs were not entirely absent, but they were largely over- 
shadowed by the richer ornament of the east. Spain was the only European 
country that did not yield to the spell of the pointed arch. This worked for good 
in the fifteenth century when all other nations except Italy were well-nigh 
engulfed in Gothic detail. 

With the exception of the English monastery chair the pieces of furniture 
illustrated in this chapter are early fifteenth century. The cupboard is of oak and 
is a typical example of Flemish handiwork. The carving shows the late Gothic 
arch, and the tracery is more compact than in earlier pieces of furniture. By the 
treatment of the arch the date of an article may be determined. Furniture fol- 
lowed closely on architectural lines, and it is interesting to note that when windows 
and doors showed changes in construction, cabinets and chairs exhibited similar 
tendencies. The difference set forth in the construction of a room may be seen 
in the Tyrolean interiors. The doors and windows in the bedchamber of the 
castle Meran, illustrated in the preceding chapter, are in the earlier style. The 
anteroom reproduced in this chapter shows the later treatment in the construc- 
tion of the small door. 

The Tyrolese more than any other people of Europe have clung to the customs 
of their ancestors. Prominent in the affairs of Italy and Switzerland during the 
Middle Ages they have had in modern times little part in the political warfare of 
their neighbors. Favored by an isolated situation they have been undisturbed 
by the march of civilization. In manners, in dress, in their home life they have 
retained the traditions of an earlier age. 

During mediaeval times the Tyrol was alternately occupied by the French and 
the Germans, and architecture and furniture combine both French and German 
tendencies. This is well illustrated in the fine old castles that cling to the mountain 
tops and make this country one of the most picturesque in Europe. These 
feudal strongholds passed from one conquering baron to another. The schloss of 
one decade became the chateau of the next. 

30 




ANTEROOM, CASTLE MEBAN, GERMAN TYROL, SHOWING THE EARLY AND THE LATE 

GOTHIC ARCH 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



Near the village of Meran stands the castle of that name, dating back to the 
twelfth century. The exterior has undergone many changes, but the interior has 
been little altered. The paneling, the mural decorations, and the traceried windows 
are early Gothic; the furniture and the tapestries belong to the fourteenth and 
fifteenth centuries. The furniture is particularly fine and consists of chests 
mounted with iron, presses and cabinets ornamented with hinges and locks of 
copper, long tables without decoration, and many beautiful chairs. The latter 
are similar to the old Roman curules, and unlike English chairs of this period, 
with their high backs and ponderous carving. A chair of this type is shown 
in the anteroom of Meran illustrated on page 31. The furniture of this old castle 
represents the best of the late Gothic school. 

Toward the end of the fifteenth century a great change took place in handi- 
craft. A new force born in Italy gradually spread throughout Europe. Gothic 
art was not uprooted in a day, and a period of confusion in design followed, in 
which the old forms were combined with the new principles of the Renaissance. 



CHAPTER IV 

FURNITURE OF THE ITALIAN RENAISSANCE 

CHARACTERISTICS OF THE STYLE. DURING THE TRANSITIONAL PERIOD 
CLASSIC DETAILS WERE COMBINED WITH GOTHIC CONSTRUCTION. 
LATER THE PURE RENAISSANCE WAS ESTABLISHED. WOOD-CARVERS 
ADAPTED THE PRINCIPAL MOTIFS OF THE DAY WHICH CONSISTED 
OF FOLIAGE BANDED WITH RIBBON, SWAGS OF FRUIT AND FLOW- 
ERS, THE ACANTHUS LEAF, AND THE ARABESQUE. FURNITURE 
BECAME MORE VARIED IN DESIGN AND WAS AUGMENTED BY MANY 
PIECES UNKNOWN IN THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY. 



CHAPTER IV 

FURNITURE OF THE ITALIAN RENAISSANCE 

T" N the work of the Renaissance," writes John Addington Symonds, "all the 
I great nations of Europe shared. But it must never be forgotten that the 
-*- true Renaissance began in Italy. In art, in scholarship, in science, hi the 
mediation between antique culture and the modern intellect, the Italians took 
the lead, handing to Germany and France and England the restored humani- 
ties complete. Spain and England have since done more for the exploration and 
colonization of the world. Germany achieved the labor of the Reformation almost 
single-handed. France has collected, centralized, and diffused intelligence with 
irresistible energy. But if we return to the first origins of the Renaissance, we 
find that, at a time when the rest of Europe was inert, Italy had already begun to 
organize the various elements of the modern spirit, and to set the fashions whereby 

the other great nations should live and learn 

" We cannot refer the whole phenomena of the Renaissance to any one cause 
or circumstance, or limit them within the field of any one department of human 
knowledge. If we ask the students of art what they mean by the Renaissance, 
they will reply that it was the revolution effected in architecture, painting, and 
sculpture by the recovery of antique monuments. Students of literature, philos- 
ophy, and theology see in the Renaissance that discovery of manuscripts, that 
passion for antiquity, that progress in philology and criticism, which led to a correct 
knowledge of the classics, to a fresh taste in poetry, to new systems of thought, 
to more accurate analysis, and finally to the Lutheran schism and the emancipation 
of the conscience. Men of science will discourse about the discovery of the solar 
system by Copernicus and Galileo, the anatomy of Vesalius, and Harvey's theory 
of the circulation of the blood. The political historian, again, has his own answer 
to the question. The extinction of feudalism, the development of the great nation- 
alities of Europe, the growth of monarchy, the limitation of the ecclesiastical 
authority, and the erection of the papacy into an Italian kingdom, and, in the 
last place, the gradual emergence of that sense of popular freedom which exploded 
in the Revolution these are the aspects of the movement which engross his atten- 
tion. Jurists will describe the dissolution of legal frictions based upon the false 
decretals, the acquisition of a true text of the Roman Code, and the attempt to 
introduce a rational method into the theory of modern jurisprudence. Men whose 
attention has been turned to the history of discoveries and inventions will relate 

35 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 




SIXTEENTH-CENTURY CHEST OF DRAWERS, LUCCA 



the exploration of America and 
the East, or will point out the 
benefits conferred upon the 
world by the arts of printing 
and engraving, by the compass 
and the telescope, by paper 
and by gunpowder. Yet neither 
any one of these answers, taken 
separately, nor indeed all taken 
together, will offer a solution of 
the problem. 

"By the term Renaissance, 
or new birth, is indicated a 
natural movement, not to be 
explained by this or that char- 
acteristic, but to be accepted 
as an effort of humanity for 
which at length the time had come, and in the onward progress of which we still 
participate. The history of the Renaissance is not the history of arts, or of 
sciences, or of literature, or even of nations. It is no mere political mutation, 
no new fashion of art, no restoration of classical standards of taste. The 
arts and the inventions, the knowledge and the books, which suddenly became 
vital at the time of the Renaissance, had long lain neglected on the shores of the 
Dead Sea of the Middle Ages. It was not their discovery which caused the Renais- 
sance. It was the intellectual energy, the spontaneous outburst of intelligence, 
which enabled mankind at that moment to make use of them." 

Broadly speaking, the Renaissance had three distinct styles: The tre-cento, 
quatro-cento, and cinque-cento. The first was developed between the years 1300 
and 1400 and its influence was confined to architecture and sculpture. Giotto, 
Arnolfo di Gambia, Andrea Taffi Orcagna, and Nicolo Pisano were its chief ex- 
ponents. The quatro-cento belonged to the fifteenth century and was a more 
classic style than its predecessors. The work of Luca della Robbia, of Donatello 
and Ghiberti, and of Filippo Brunelleschi are magnificent examples of the second 
division. The cinque-cento was the culmination of the art of the Renaissance 
and is associated with the mighty names of da Vinci, Raphael, and Michaelangelo. 
The former styles were but preparation for the architecture, sculpture, painting, 
and decorative arts of the sixteenth century. Under the patronage of the popes 
and the powerful Medici family, pictures were painted, statues carved, tapestries 
woven, metals wrought, in a manner that the world had never seen before. 

36 



FURNITURE OF THE ITALIAN RENAISSANCE 



" During that period," to quote from Symonds again, "the entire nation seemed 
to be endowed with an instinct for the beautiful and with the capacity for pro- 
ducing it in every form." 

No article was too commonplace to receive the attention of great artists. The 
same care that was expended on the facade of a cathedral or the interior of a palace 
was bestowed on the simplest piece of woodwork. The carved chairs, the painted 
chests, and the inlaid cabinets all show that perfection of detail which characterized 
the boldest undertakings. It was this wonderful ensemble, this linking of the fine 
and decorative arts, that made the Renaissance the golden age of achievement. 

It was not until the cinque-cento period that furniture showed traces of the 
classic revival. Wood-workers 
clung to Gothic designs long 
after stone-cutters had dis- 
carded them. Thus some of 
the tre-cento and quatro-cento 
motifs are exhibited in the furni- 
ture of the sixteenth century. 
It is well in studying the wood- 
work of this epoch to keep in 
mind the leading features of the 
three styles. The tre-cento con- 
sisted of interlacing lines com- 
bined with simple tracery and 
conventionalized foliage. The 
tracery was Saracenic rather 
than Gothic, and entirely free 
from symbolism. The quatro- 
cento blended the festoon, the 
garland, the band, and the car- 
touche with naturalistic fruit 
and flowers. The cinque-cento 
was a restoration of classic de- 
tails and included the fret, the 
arabesque, the anthemion, the 
scroll, and the acanthus. The 
arabesque or grotesque, as it 
was termed from its discovery 
in a Roman grotto, was com- 
posed of vases, shields, masks, SIXTEENTH-CENTURY CABINET, LUCCA 

37 




HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 




ANTEROOM CHAIR OF WALNUT 



animal forms, and floral emblems. Sym- 
metry, balance, and perfect propor- 
tions, united with faultless execution, 
saved the arabesque from becoming a 
grotesque in both senses of the word. 
In the hands of Raphael, Giulio Ro- 
mano, Sansovino, and the Lombardi, 
this type of ornament reached a high 
degree of beauty. Raphael's work in 
the loggia of the Vatican is a splendid 
example of the arabesque. 

Woodworkers adapted these three 
styles to the furniture of the day, and 
it is to their credit that they produced 
harmony, and not confusion. The 
backs of chairs did not resemble palace 
doors, nor did the columns of cabinets 
suggest Greek colonnades. There was a 
fine sense of fitness between the object 
and its ornament. Herein was a vast 
difference between the handiwork of 
the Renaissance and that of the Gothic 
period. Gothic furniture as a whole 
was oppressively architectural. The 
lids of chests and the doors of cup- 
boards were often church facades in 
miniature; and the finials of chairs and 
settles diminutive church spires. Gothic 
art was ecclesiastical rather than secu- 
lar, and Gothic furniture, with few 
exceptions, was fitted for monasteries 
rather than homes. 

The Renaissance raised furniture- 
making to an art. Pupils w r ere appren- 
ticed to a master and studied with him 
until they had perfected their craft, 
when they opened workshops of their 
own. The pieces produced in these 
great studio-shops united beauty with 



38 



FURNITURE OF THE ITALIAN RENAISSANCE 



utility. For the first time designs were 
made with reference to their setting. 
The furniture of the private dwelling 
was suggestive of neither cathedrals 
nor abbeys. It was made with a care- 
ful regard for the needs of the owner, 
his station and manner of living. Thus 
houses possessed a harmony which had 
hitherto been absent. 

The arrangement of furniture was 
greatly altered. Chairs and chests were 
no longer placed stiffly against the 
walls. According to one old writer 
the sixteenth century loosened the furni- 
ture from the side of the room, and 
distributed it "here and there in the 
manner agreeable to modern taste." 
With its changed position came a 
change in the construction and charac- 
ter of each article. The cabinet became 
a cabinet in the modern meaning of the 
word. It was no longer a press or a 
cupboard. The table lost its severe 
lines and plain surfaces, and developed 
into an ornamental piece of furniture. 
Wood-carvers, as if 'to atone for past 
neglect, lavished their highest skill upon 
it. The chair was completely trans- 
formed. It refused to be classified 
under one or two heads. There was 
the chair for the hall, the dining-room, 
and the bedchamber. It was impos- 
ing, simple, massive, or graceful, as the 
occasion demanded. The upholstered 
seat was introduced during this period. 
Hitherto chair cushions were movable; 
they were now a part of the frame. This 
was a radical change and gave rise to 
a new class of workmen upholsterers. 




GOTHIC CHAIR WITH RENAISSANCE DETAILS, 
PARMA MUSEUM, TRANSITIONAL PERIOD 



39 




BEDCHAMBER IN THE VINCIGLIATA, FIESOLE 

Among the sixteenth-century pieces of furniture which were unknown at an 
earlier date was the sideboard. The credence and the dresser have been 
mentioned. The sideboard was longer and lower than these mediaeval pieces and 
without shelves. One of the earliest references to the sideboard is in the journal 
of Benvenuto Cellini. To this prince, of silversmiths we are indebted for many 
picturesque glimpses. . Sometimes it is an interview with Michaelangelo, some- 
times a visit to the pope, sometimes a line about a piece of furniture. "Meanwhile 
I contrived, by means of a pupil of Raffaello da Urbino, to get an order for one of 
those great water-vessels called acquereccia, which are used for ornaments to place 
on a sideboard. He wanted a pair made of equal size. One of them he intrusted 
to Lucagnolo and the other to me." 

Another writer of the same period says in a letter: " When I entered the house 
of Maestro Giovanni, of whom I may have spoken, I was given bread and wine 
from the sideboard and pressed to lodge for the night." In this letter is a second 
reference of interest. "On my way out of the city, I fell in with three youths 
whom I thought to be students. Two were weavers from Palermo, and the third a 

40 




STATE DINING-ROOM IN THE VINCIGLIATA, FIESOLE 

wood-carver on his way to the palace to receive orders for a marriage-coffer. I 
hoped to learn more_erf his errand, but he talked little, and refused to tarry for wine." 
Unfortunately the letter gives no clue to the palace nor to the noble lady for 
whom the coffer was intended. 

In the list of new furniture was the chest of drawers. This was placed in the 
bedchamber and was the forerunner of the bureau. During the sixteenth century 
the bed took on a new form. The massive Gothic bed was no longer tolerated. 
A lighter, more movable structure superseded it. Slender columns upheld a canopy 
of brocade or tapestry, and curtains of similar material inclosed the sides. The 
Renaissance bed was not a four-poster in the colonial acceptance of the word, for 
the back was completely encased in wood. This headboard, if such it may be 
called, was richly carved, and occasionally displayed the arms and insignia of the 
family. The bed in the chamber of the Vincigliata, here illustrated, has exquis- 
itely carved figures, in place of lower columns. 

Bedrooms of this period were more comfortable than they had been at any 
previous time. Panes of glass were no longer a luxury. With larger windows came 

41 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



more light and better ventilation. A brighter, happier atmosphere was the result. 
This changed condition was not confined to the upper story. The lower part of 
the house was equally transformed. The shadowy corners, the dimly lighted stair- 
cases, and the dark passageways were of the past. The perpetual twilight of the 
medieval dwelling gave place to the sunshine of the Renaissance. 

Among the host of articles which added to the comfort and convenience of the 
Italian house were clocks, mirrors, and screens. Clocks were not the invention of 
this century, but they were little used until this period. They were of small dimen- 
sions, elaborated, incased in metal, and sometimes ornamented with pietra-dura 
an inlay of ivory, horn, mother-of-pearl, and lapis lazuli. Screens were of stamped 
and painted leather, and were usually imported from Spain. Mirrors were of two 
varieties. The common ones were of polished steel; the more costly ones were of 
glass. The frames in both instances were of metal and highly decorated. It was 
in the small furnishings that the art of the house was at fault. Mirror frames, 
clock cases, and candlesticks passed the border-line of good taste. 

Chests gained rather than diminished in importance during this period. 
They were no longer used as seats, for chairs were abundant. They were no longer 
needed as receptacles for armor and implements of the chase, for hunting had fallen 
into disuse, and the sixteenth century was one of peace. The housekeeper did not 
require them for her household stores, for more convenient pieces of furniture were 
designed especially for her needs. The family plate was no longer concealed in 
them, for the silver was displayed on the sideboard by day and hidden in a safe 
at night. 

As dower or marriage coffers, the chests, or cassoni, of the Renaissance developed 
into works of art. Many artists made their reputations in this field alone. The 
finest gesso work, the purest gilding, the most intricate intarsia, and the best type 
of carving entered into the construction of these coffers. The cartouche or 
pierced shield was often a feature of the carved chest. Acanthus leaves and 
delicately modeled arabesques were also favorite designs. One Andrea di Cosimo 
was noted for his skill in adapting the cartouche. Vasari says of him: "It would 
not be possible to describe the vast number of decorations in coffers and other works 
of similar kind executed by Andrea di Cosimo, seeing that the whole city is full of 
them. I must, therefore, decline the enumeration of them, but I cannot omit to 
mention the circular escutcheons which were prepared by this artist, and to such 
an extent that there could hardly be a wedding solemnized but that Andrea must 
have his shops filled with such works, either for one or another of the citizens." 

Many coffers were decorated with gesso, a composition of paint and gold-leaf. 
But the most beautiful ones were of intarsia. In the fifteenth century intarsia, or 
the inlaying of colored woods etched by hot irons, was little known outside of the 

42 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



Carthusian monasteries. In the sixteenth century its fame reached the courts of 
Francois I and Henry VIII. The inlay was composed of natural and dyed woods 
scorched with hot sand or iron and polished with penetrating oils. Geometrical 
patterns, copied from mosaics, cinque-cento ornament, landscapes, and figures were 
executed in this medium. Each artist had his own methods of preparing the colors, 
and these secrets were carefully guarded. Among the famous workers in intarsia, 
the intarsia-tori, as they were called, were Fra Raffaello, Fra Damiano, and Fra 
Bartolommeo. , These men were monks of the Carthusian and Dominican orders 
but they made marriage-coffers as well as choir stalls and sacristy presses. A 
notable piece of this sixteenth-century inlay is the screen in the Charter House at 
Pavia, decorated by Fra Bartolommeo. Another celebrated example is the chasse 
containing the relics of St. Dominic in the church of Bergamo. This work was 
executed by Fra Damiano, but it is "called "Charles V's intarsia." When Charles 
of Spain visited Bergamo he refused to believe that the chasse was made of 
inlaid wood, declaring it was the work of the brush. Nor was he convinced until a 
piece of the wood was removed. In memory of this occasion, and the tribute paid 
to the monk's skill, the wood was never replaced. Many museums and private 
collections contain beautiful specimens of this Renaissance inlay, notable specimens 
being in the Vincigliata. 

Situated on high land, overlooking Florence and Fiesole, is the Castello di Vin- 
cigliata, rich in sixteenth-century treasures. The present owner is an American, 
Mr. John Temple Leader, who has spent a fortune in restoring it. Although the 
castle is no longer used as a dwelling there is no suggestion of a museum in the 
arrangement of Mr. Leader's collection which includes furniture of unusual beauty, 
rare pieces of silver and bronze, and exquisite enamels, faience, and glass. Part 
of the building antedates the Renaissance, and the rooms in this section have been 
sympathetically treated. The ceilings are particularly fine and range from late 
mediaeval types to those of the sixteenth century. 

Ceilings and side walls during the Renaissance were treated in a masterly man- 
ner. Architects adapted the vaulted ceiling to new conditions and transformed 
the flat Gothic type into a thing of beauty. One treatment of the flat ceiling 
consisted of horizontal beams, another of cross-beaming. The sunken panels 
formed by the latter scheme were ornamented by carved rosettes in high relief. 
This treatment was a revival of the coffered ceiling of the Romans and became one 
of the most characteristic features of the Renaissance house. When left in the 
natural colors of the wood it was very harmonious. In the typical dwelling of the 
sixteenth century it was seldom painted. In the palace the rosettes were usually 
of gold set in a colored background. 

Usually, when one wishes concrete examples of Renaissance decoration, he must 

44 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 







turn to the homes of princes. In the palaces of Rome, 
Florence, Naples, and Venice every fifteenth and sixteenth 
century type of ceiling is represented. Some are very fine, 
others are too ornate to be beautiful. Florentine palaces 
are simpler in architecture and furnishings than those of any 
other Italian city, and consequently Florentine ceilings are 
more worthy of study. In the Riccardi Palace built by 
Michelozzi, for Cosimo de' Medici the Elder, and famous as 
being the birthplace of Lorenzo the Magnificent, are ceilings 
of great merit, and notable ones are in the Strozzi and 
Gondi palaces. 

A beautiful example of horizontal beaming, is shown in 
the music-room of Dorfred House, the residence of Frederic 
C. Bartlett, Esq., Chicago. In the William C. Whitney 
. . house, New York city, are several ceilings of the coffered 

|-^V% L^*^/ class. This American mansion is truer to the Renaissance 
.W^"v ^ than many Italian palaces. The latter have suffered from 
>~*?4 i ^lU.S vandalism, and scarcely less 

I l^ffSBU^'^Qfi'' * f rom unfortunate restora- 
tion. The Whitney interiors 
are very consistent. 

Celebrated ceilings are 

in the ducal palaces of Mantua, Genoa and Venice, 

but, as a whole, they are very elaborate. Venetian 

decorators treated the ceiling as an independent 

thing, giving it a prominence which was fatal to the 

proportions of the room. They painted pictures in 

all the available spaces which detracted from the 

importance of the side walls and spoiled the har- 
mony of floor, walls, and ceiling, which was one of 

the great principles of Renaissance decoration. 

Paneling formed a part of the woodwork of the 

sixteenth-century Italian house, but it did not 

cover the wall so completely as in many English 

houses. It had the character of a high wainscoting 

divided into long, plain panels, headed with smaller 

ones, carved in low relief. Above the woodwork 

tapestry extended to the cornice. During this period 

tapestry becomes a part of the wall. Hitherto it had ^SUJLiby RlpE AN 



RENAISSANCE CARVING 







KMm 




CARVED CHAIRS IX THE LUCCA MUSEUM, EARLY SEVENTEENTH CENTURY 

been simply a hanging, fastened at the top and moving with every wind that 
passed through the room. "Look for hidden foes behind the arras," was an old 
proverb which now'lost its significance. 

Tapestries were woven in great quantities in Genoa, Venice, and Palermo. 
The Gobelin weaves were comparatively new, as the industry, founded by Jean 
Gobelin was in its infancy, but Lille and Arras had been pouring the products of their 
looms into Italy for generations. Arras had given to the Italian language a new 
word, arrazzi and this term, in a general way, was applied to all textile hangings. 
Brocades, velvets, and decorated leathers were sometimes used in palaces, and 
again, the space above the panels was filled with mural paintings. But the every- 
day room the room in the citizen's house depended on the soft-toned tapestry 
of Palermo and Genoa for a background, and as no pictures were placed against 
it, the result was very satisfactory. 

Pictures were the luxury of the rich. The citizen's house, therefore, possessed 
a harmony which the home of the patrician lacked. Tapestry was little fitted to 
display paintings. The richly framed pictures, when brought into contact with 
the richly figured walls, produced an effect of over-decoration which was ruinous 

47 



to the unity of the room. The walls were sufficiently pictorial in themselves, and 
escaped being too decorative by the subdued color schemes of the weavers. 

Mediaeval colors were glaring; those of the Renaissance were rich and somber. 
Venetian red, Gobelin blue, the golden browns and deep yellows of Palermo, and 
the silvery greens of Genoa were among the colors chosen by the tapestry-makers. 
It remained for a later and French taste to introduce the pale, cold colors, and the 
glittering gold which annihilated harmony and spoiled the relation of walls and 
furniture. 

Against the low-toned tapestry, wainscoted in Italian walnut, the furniture of 
the day had its true setting. Brought in juxtaposition with the garish colors of the 
baroque period it lost its real character, and became too heavily carved for beauty. 
Perhaps no other style of furniture loses so much in being separate from its legiti- 
mate surroundings as that of the Italian Renaissance. For this reason museum 
pieces and isolated cabinets and chairs in a modern house give little hint of their 
one-time dignity. In the Renaissance house the furniture was merely a detail in 
the general scheme of furnishing, and as such it was nearly perfect. 

Designs of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries maintained the 
high standard set by the early Renaissance furniture-makers. Carving was intricate 
but was executed in low relief, and the various quatro-cento and cinque-cento 
motifs were kept carefully apart. The chairs of the early seventeenth century, 
illustrated on page 47, show that at that late day the simple tre-cento orna- 
ment was skilfully handled, and there are many other pieces of similar date which 
show the same restrained treatment. One type of furniture had disappeared. 
The transition pieces combining Gothic and Renaissance principles were extinct. 
No two styles were less fitted to go together, and no furniture was so painfully 
ugly as that which united Renaissance ornament and Gothic construction. Be it 
said in favor of the Italians, that this combination was never common except in 
monasteries where Gothic tradition was almost a religion. The chair on page 39 
is a good example of the grafting of Renaissance details on Gothic framework, 
using good in the sense of typical. 

Upholstered chairs in the seventeenth century formed a distinct class. In the 
early sixteenth century the cushioned seat was set in a frame of wood to which was 
added later a cushioned back. Gradually the frame of the chair was hidden by the 
upholstery of brocade, tapestry, or leather until the arms and supports alone were 
visible. This type was well illustrated at the Exposition of Arts and Industries 
held in Lucca a few years ago when, in addition to many beautiful modern 
articles, was exhibited a rare collection of Renaissance furniture. Many pieces 
were contributedby old Italian families, and were shown to the public for the 
first time. The exhibition was especially rich in carved and upholstered chairs. 

48 




DESK AND CHAIR USED BY SAVONAROLA, MUSEUM OP ST. MARK, FLORENCE 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 




SCREEN OF INTARSIA, PAVIA 
Work of Fra Bartolommeo 



The carved chair of Italian walnut reproduced on 
page 38 was loaned from the collection of the 
Mansi palace of Lucca, as were also the chest 
of drawers and the fine sixteenth-century cabi- 
net with its priceless old porcelains shown on 
pages 36 and 37. This cabinet originally had a 
plain door of wood. The Renaissance furniture- 
maker was an artist and he realized that a piece 
so heavily carved should have a solid door, con- 
cealing and not displaying the treasures within. 
It was a nineteenth-century cabinet-maker who 
added the glass front. 

The Mansi chair is worthy of study, as it rep- 
resents a type which has grown to be accepted as 
characteristic of the Renaissance. Modern furni- 
ture-makers have copied its narrow back and 
high seat, and have made it a medium for jig-saw 
carving and glued ornament. It was merely an 
anteroom chair in the sixteenth century, and was 
not tolerated long by the Italians, although it was 
in high favor in England as evidenced by the many examples in English museums. 
A strange fatality has given prominence to this least desirable of Renaissance designs, 
and emphasizes the fact that in furniture the survival is not always of the fittest. The 
dignified arm-chairs and the fine, simple, straight-back chairs, illustrated on page 47, 
have been overlooked by modern wood-workers. The Renaissance table has never 
had justice done to its beautiful lines and restrained ornament, although the baroque 
table of the late seventeenth century has been made the theme of countless 
reproductions. When furniture-makers discarded the solid side supports of the 
Renaissance table they sought to hide defective construction with meaningless 
carving. The table with four separate legs was yet to come. The old forms 
with heavy standards and long foot-boards were passing away. The transitional 
table was not beautiful, although the result achieved in another century was well 
worth the struggle. 

The baroque period was the waning Renaissance and corresponded with the rococo 
period in France. The final illustration in this chapter is a typical Italian example. 
Two pieces of furniture which assumed an important place in the late seventeenth 
century were unknown in the early Renaissance house, and these were the bookcase 
and the writing-desk. Bookcases, in the earlier period, were made exclusively for 
the great libraries of Italy, and writing-desks were the property of monks and 

50 



FURNITURE OF THE ITALIAN RENAISSANCE 




FLORENTINE MARRIAGE COFFER 

scribes. In the Museum of St. Mark in Florence is exhibited the desk used by 
Savonarola. It has not a line of decoration, a scrap of carving. The monks orna- 
mented their chairs and benches, but their desks were as severe as their lives. 
Savonarola's desk is beautiful in its straight lines and plain surfaces, and aside 
from its connection with the great Dominican, has value as a piece of Renaissance 
woodwork. The curule shown with the desk is interesting. It is sold in replica 
all over Florence as "Savonarola's chair," the Roman origin being overshadowed 
by its association with the great Florentine. 

The couch as distinguished from the bed was a product of the Renaissance. 




A FINE EXAMPLE OF RENAISSANCE CARVING 

51 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



It was placed in the bedroom and, 
like many of the coffers, was orna- 
mented with intarsia and gesso. 
Yasari, in writing of gesso decora- 
tion, says: "And this custom pre- 
vailed to such an extent for many 
years that the most distinguished 
masters employed themselves in 
painting and gilding. Nor were they 
ashamed of this occupation. The 
truth of what is here said may be 
seen at this day in the chambers of 
.the magnificent Lorenzo, on which 
were depicted, not by men of the 
common race of painters, all the 
jousts given by the duke." 

Furniture-making owed not a 
little of its prestige to the patronage 
of the Medici family, and scarcely 
less to the powerful Sforza family 
of Milan, the Gonzaga of Mantua, 
the Farnese of Rome, and the Doria 
and Spinola houses of Genoa. The 
cities of Italy were governed by men 
who vied with each other in fostering 
the arts. They were not all of noble 
birth, but they wielded a power 
equaled by few princes of the blood. 
A family numbering in its ranks such 
figures as Cosimo the Elder, Lorenzo 
the Magnificent, Clement VII, and 
Leo X had little to fear from royalty. 
When the glory of this family declined 

the artsof Florence declined also. And what was true of Florence was true of Genoa, of 
Milan, and of Rome. The late seventeenth century sounded the death-knell of the Re- 
naissance. Fine art was dead, for the last of the masters had passed away. Liberal 
art,more dependent on its patrons than fine art,deterioratedwith the waning influence 
of those great families who had created standards of taste. The work of the stone-cut- 
ter, the silversmith, and the furniture-maker became aweak imitation of former beauty. 

52 




STATE CHAIR, LATE RENAISSANCE, 
BAROQUE TREATMENT 



CHAPTER V 

FURNITURE OF THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

CHARACTERISTICS OF THE STYLE: A TRANSITIONAL PERIOD SIMILAR 
TO THAT OF ITALY BUT OF LONGER DURATION, GOTHIC ART BEING 
MORE FIRMLY ROOTED IN FRANCE THAN IN THE SOUTH. THE 
ORNAMENT OF THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE WAS IN A LIGHTER VEIN 
AND LESS DEPENDENT ON ANTIQUE MODELS. DELICATE ARA- 
BESQUES AND PIERCED SHIELDS WERE USED BY FURNITURE-MAKERS 
AND DECORATORS. LATER IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY WOOD- 
CARVERS COMBINED AN INTERLACED RIBBON ORNAMENT WITH THE 
LOZENGE AND THE CARTOUCHE, WHICH WAS FOLLOWED BY THE 
INTRODUCTION OF THE SHELL AND THE ORNATE SCROLL. FROM 

- 

THAT DATE FURNITURE-MAKING DECLINED IN SIMPLICITY. 



CHAPTER Y 

FURNITURE OF THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 

IT was during the reign of Charles VIII that the influence of the Italian Renais- 
sance extended to France. With the accession of this monarch began the long 
wars with Naples and Milan which ended with the extinction of the house of 
Valois. Charles's campaign in Italy gained neither lands nor glory for France, but 
it laid the foundation of the French Renaissance. 

"The new birth" in France may be divided into the following epochs: First, 
Transition, 1453-1515, including the reigns of Charles VIII and Louis XII; 
second, Francois I, 1515-1547; third, Henri II and Henri IV, 1547-1610; fourth, 
Louis XIII, 1610-1643. 

The first epoch was Renaissance in detail only; the construction was purely 
Gothic. The fourth was the waning Renaissance when a threadbare tradition 
remained. The strongest period was the century 1515-1610, covered by the reigns 
of five sovereigns, three of whom left an indelible impress on the arts of the day. 
Francois I, Henri II, and Henri IV created epochs; Francois II, Charles IX, and 
Henri III did little for the honor of France and less for art. The forty-two years 
encompassed by the reigns of these three monarchs, last of the house of Valois, 
were among the blackest in history. Little that was notable was produced in 
France between the death of Henri II and the accession of Henri of Navarre. 

40 

During the thirty odd years that Francois I occupied the throne, more was done 
for the artistic development of France than had been accomplished in the combined 
reigns of Charles VII, Louis XI, Charles VIII, and Louis XII, who had ruled for 
nearly a century. 

Francois came to his inheritance when the nation was ripe for a great art 
revival, and he had the wit to seize the opportunity, and the brains and wealth to 
make the most of it. His ambition was to raise France to an equality with Italy 
and to this end he invited great architects and painters to his court. 

Italy was divided into countless kingdoms and dukedoms, but France was 
practically a united country. Italy had her Florentine school, her Venetian school, 
her schools of Siena, Milan, and Naples. The art of France was centralized in Paris. 
Francois called to his aid the greatest lights of Italy and Flanders, and began the 
series of magnificent chateaux which to-day bear witness to his munificence. Hun- 
dreds of native designers were employed in building Chambord, Chenonceau, and 
Fontainebleau, who worked under the guidance of such men as Serlio and Vignola, 

55 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



Primaticcio, Leonardo da Vinci, Andrea del Sarto, and Benvenuto Cellini. Among 
the illustrious Frenchmen who joined forces with the Italian architects and deco- 
rators, and later formed the national school, were Bullant, Lescot, and Delorme. 
Besides building royal residences Fra^ois remodeled the Louvre and added 

several rooms to the chateau 
of Blois which had been par- 
tially restored by Louis XII. 
In Chambord the architecture 
of a feudal stronghold was 
blended with Renaissance de- 
tails. In Fontainebleau a more 
consistent plan was followed. 
The interior of Chambord was 
demolished during the French 
Revolution, but Fontainebleau, 
in spite of its checkered history, 
remains to-day the truest ex- 
ample of the French Renais- 
sance. Many stirring events 
have had this historic palace 
for a background. In one of 
the rooms the revocation of 
the Edict of Nantes was signed ; 
in another Monaldeschi was 
murdered; and in the great 
gallery of Diana occurred the 
death of Conde in 1686. Here 
years later the sentence of 
divorce was passed on Joseph- 
ine; and here in the court of 
Henri IV, Napoleon parted 
with his Old Guard. Fontaine- 
bleau was alternately a royal 
dwelling, a military school, and 
a papal residence. Henri II and Henri IV did much to beautify it; Louis XIII was 
born within its walls but seldom lived there; Louis XIV cared little for it; and Louis 
XV shunned it altogether. Napoleon revived its splendor for a brief period and 
Louis Philippe spent a royal fortune in restoring it. Thanks to Louis Philippe the 
Fontainebleau of to-day is a faithful representation of the Fontainebleau of the 

56 




LOUIS XII FIREPLACE, CHATEAU OF BLOIS 



FURNITURE OF THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 



sixteenth century. Much of the woodwork is the same and many of the frescoes 
have been merely retouched. The fireplaces and mantels have been restored from 
sketches and plans which had been carefully preserved. 

The woodwork of the French Renaissance differed materially from Italian wood- 
work of the same period. The ornament was in a lighter vein, the carving more 
open, and less dependent on antique 
models. Even when the work was 
executed by Italian designers it was 
imbued with the French spirit. This 
is especially noticeable in the treatment 
of doors and chimney-pieces. 

The fireplaces in Blois and Fon- 
tainebleau show with what a masterly 
hand the workmen of the early Renais- 
sance wielded wood and stone. A 
Louis XII fireplace of stone is repro- 
duced herewith. On a field of fleur-de- 
lis is a shield ornamented by a crown 
and surrounded by schallop shells. In 
another portion of the stonework is the 
pierced porcupine, Louis XIFs emblem, 
combined with the ermine of Anne of 
Brittany. The uniting of royal emblems 
is seen in many of the rooms of this 
chateau. The salanfander of Francois 
I and the monogram of Claude, his 
wife, daughter of Louis XII, occur 
over and over. The swan pierced with 
the dagger, Claude's insignia is also a 
frequent motif. 

The chimney-piece of the room in 
Blois, illustrated on page 59, shows the 

charm and delicacy of the "Francois Premier" style. This salon was decorated for 
Queen Claude and the initials C and F interlaced with crowns are conspicuous in the 
carving. The intricate low relief is characteristic of the early Renaissance. The 
fireplace in the gallery of Henri II, reproduced on page 61, is one of the most famous 
in France. The royal arms, more elaborately executed than in the Louis XII 
mantel, occupy the center of the chimney-breast. The frescoes were originally 
painted by Primaticcio and his pupil Abbate and later restored by Jean Alaux. 

57 




RENAISSANCE CHAIR, CHATEAU OF BLOIS 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



Henri's initial inclosed in a crescent, the emblem of Diane de Poitiers, is a favorite 
motif in the decoration. Four crescents encircling fleur-de-lis adorn the fireplace 
and are repeated over the doors. The ornamentation above the mantel contains a 
hint of the interlaced lines and bands which were destined to become a marked feature 
of the Henri II style in both woodwork and furniture. The development of "strap- 
work" is an interesting phase of Renaissance ornament. It originated in Italy, 
but was less favored by the Italians than by the the French and English. In England 
during the reign of Elizabeth this form of carving was used so extensively that it 
is to-day largely associated with the name of that sovereign. "Elizabethan strap - 
work" is the name given to the pierced and scrolled woodwork of this period. 

Less remarkable in an architectural way than the Francois I period the Henri 
II surpassed it in the industrial arts. Furniture, textiles, porcelains, and book- 
bindings were triumphs of artistic achievement. Jean Grolier, in his exquisite 
bindings, carried the intersecting ribbon ornamentation to a high degree of 
beauty, suggesting the interlaced work of old Celtic and Saracenic patterns. The 
exquisite Oiron faience, better known as "Henri Deux ware," was decorated with 
this scheme of ornament. In the intricate strap-and-band decoration furniture- 
makers found an extensive field for ingenuity. The pierced shield, the lozenge, the 
flat cartouche, were combined with interlaced lines in countless ways. Grotesque 
heads in low relief were also used in connection with strap-work, particularly in 
cabinets, presses, and armoires. In the Cluny Museum is a mourning cabinet 
belonging to Diane de Poitiers, ornamented with bands of interlacing ribbons 
painted in dull colors. Another cabinet with similar decorations came from Clair- 
vaux Abbey. A chest with Henri's monogram has narrow lines of marquetry in 
a pattern that might have been a direct copy of a book-cover. There are three 
coffers in the Louvre, and two in Fontainebleau, which display this handling. 

In the cabinet furniture-makers found the finest medium for their talents. So 
long as ornament was controlled and made subordinate to the design, every piece of 
carving from the hand of the French designer was a thing of beauty. Delicate 
arabesques and the more severe strap-work appeared to great advantage in the 
cabinet. The construction of this article gave scope for a treatment which was 
impossible in the bed, the chair, or the table. What the chest was in the hands of 
the mediaeval craftsman, the cabinet became in the hands of the furniture-maker 
of the French Renaissance ; it was the highest exponent of the craftsman's skill. 
Fontainebleau, Blois, the Louvre, and the Cluny contain many beautiful specimens 
of this period, roughly spanned by the years 1550 and 1600. 

In this country there are fine specimens in museums and private collections, 
but they lose much in being separated from their original setting a remark that 
may be made in reference to all Renaissance furniture. In the Lawrence room in 

58 




FIREPLACE BUILT FOR CLAUDE, WIFE OF FRANCOIS I, CHATEAU OF BLOIS 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, an admirable effect is gained by the use of Renais- 
sance panels which line the walls. Against this background the carved cabinets, 
the chairs, and the pieces of fine armor have a consistent setting. Much of 
Benvenuto Cellini's work is here in replica. The shield and helmet made for 
Francois I and the suit of armor belonging to Henri II, designed by Cellini and 
executed by his pupil Pilon, are both exhibited. Pilon equaled Cellini in strength, 
and Cousin and Jean Goujon surpassed him in delicacy. In the andirons of the many 
fireplaces of Fontainebleau and Blois may be seen the skill and ingenuity of 
French metal-workers. 

When Henri IV came to the throne the sixteenth century was nearing its close. 
Under Henri III the arts had declined. Henri of Navarre revived the glories of 
Fontainebleau and gave a renewed impetus to the industries of France. But times 
had changed and the creative force of the Renaissance was gone. Henri's queen, 
Marie de' Medici, cared little for French taste and sought to introduce Italian work- 
men at court. Furniture of her reign was either imported from Italy or patterned 
closely on Italian models. Venetian brocades and Genoese velvets replaced French 
and Flemish tapestries. Architecture, so far as the queen had a voice in the matter, 
was decidedly Italian. After Henri's death Marie commissioned Jacques Debrosse 
to build the Luxembourg. The exterior was planned after the Pitti palace, the 
queen's early home, and remains an interesting architectural monument to this 
remarkable woman. 

In the chateau of Blois is a chamber where Marie de' Medici passed the bitter 
hours of her captivity. It has been described by Richard Sudbury in his delightful 
book, Two Gentlemen in Touraine: 

"We turned with some reluctance from the scene without and the thoughts 
which it had inspired, to enter the apartments of Henri III. These occupy the 
whole of the upper floor; and if they are barren of their former furniture, they may 
at least boast a wealth of old and historical associations connected with the times 
of Catherine and her cousin Marie de' Medici. The whole suite, consisting of halls, 
of private rooms and galleries, overlooking the town, is in a perfect state of 
restoration. The French government has devoted much time and money to the 
preservation of old designs and styles of decoration. Everywhere the blue and 
yellow polished tiles, representing the or and azure of heraldry, are noticeable in 
their ever-changing designs upon the floor. The thick beams of the ceiling, 
decorated in the manner peculiar to the Renaissance, blend with that of the walls, 
and make us believe that it is yesterday in which we are living rather than to-day. 
A beautiful little chamber leads out to the private chapel of the king. It is 
lined with tiny wooden panels, two hundred and forty in number, which are of 
different design and highly ornamented in gold and brown. The ceiling is so similar 

60 




FIREPLACE IN THE GALLERY OF HENRI II, TONTAINEBLEAU 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



to the walls that it gives to the whole the appearance of a little jewel-box built 
to inclose some royal gem. And indeed it did once long ago, for hard by is a 
window where Marie de' Medici, escaped after twenty years of captivity in 
this chamber." 

Women wielded a powerful influence on the arts of France during the sixteenth 
and seventeenth centuries. Pious Anne of Brittany, renowned for her Book of 

Hours, cannot be 
reckoned as an im- 
portant figure of her 
day so far as the arts 
are concerned, but a 
queen of the follow- 
ing reign, the second 
wife of Francois I, 
cannot be thus dis- 
missed. Eleanor of 
Portugal, sister of 
Charles V, most fam- 
ous monarch of his 
time after Francois 
himself, was notable 
in a century of notable 
women. Her interest 
in the development 
of French architec- 
ture and decorative 
art was very keen. 
Catherine de' Medici's 
talents were largely 
expended on court 
intrigues, but Diane 
de Poitiers was an 
important factor in 
molding taste in the 
reign of Henri II. In 
the waning days of the 
Renaissance Anne 
of Austria was a great 

BEDSTEAD BELONGING TO ANNE OF AUSTRIA, FONTAINEBLEAU patron Of the arts. 

62 




FURNITURE OF THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 



Anne's bedchamber is one of the most sumptuous of the apartments in Fon- 
tainebleau. The room is hung with Gobelin tapestries and is magnificently 
furnished. The chairs are upholstered in Beauvais. The tables and cabinets are 
inlaid in elaborate patterns and ornamented with delicate carvings. Rare vases 
and urns are scattered through 
the apartment. The effect is 
bewildering. Everything is 
figured, everything is full of 
motion and color. The tapes- 
tries and paintings depict the 
most stirring events. There is 
nothing restful about the room, 
except the bed which against 
a quieter background would 
arouse enthusiasm. It is a 
particularly fine specimen. The 
columns are well proportioned 
and treated architecturally with 
bases and capitals. There is 
no foot-board and the head- 
board is lower than in the bed 
of the previous century. The 
wooden canopy is part of the 
design and is richly carved. 
The hangings are of a unique 
pattern, woven especially for 
Queen Anne. Many royal 
heads have rested beneath the 
carved canopy and one papal 
one. Between the years 1812 
and 1814 Pius VII was impris- 
oned in Fontainebleau. Many 
objects of interest belonging to 
him are exhibited in another 
room, the most interesting be- 
ing a bronze reliquary, a gold 
and ivory crucifix, and a small 
clock studded with cameos, RENAISSANCE PANELING. REPLICA OF ARMOR BELONGING 

TO HENRI II, EXECUTED BY PILON. DUTCH CHAIR. 

given by the pope to Napoleon. MUSEUM OP FINE ARTS, BOSTON 

63 




HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



The chandelier in Anne's bedchamber belongs to the late Louis XIII period 
and is oppressively gorgeous. Beneath each candle-holder is a huge pendant of 
crystal which glitters like a mammoth diamond. A comparison of the French 
chandelier with the Italian one of the day shows how superior the latter is in design 
and workmanship. 

Louis XIV carried the golden glitter of the chandelier a point further than did 
Louis XIII, and Louis XV made it an excuse for every fantastic bit of ornament. 
Louis XVI restored it to an earlier simplicity, and Napoleon gave to it a Spartan 
severity. These various styles may be studied in Fontainebleau. From Francois 
I to Louis Philippe the palace is an epitome of the history of interior decoration. 
Seven historic periods, covering four centuries, are represented within its walls. 

During the Henri IV period the shell, as a motif in wood-carving, came into 
prominence. At first its use was confined to finials of chairs and cabinets where 
it was extremely effective. During Louis XIII's reign the shell passed into 
another stage of its existence. It formed a part of nearly every piece of furniture, 
and was repeated in the decoration of doors and mantels. With the abuse of the 
shell began the long reign of rococo ornament literally rock and shell rocaille 
et coquille which was one of the most remarkable in the history of decoration. 

Simon Vouet, who bore somewhat the same relation to Louis XIII that his pupil, 
Lebrun, did to Louis XIV, was largely responsible for the florid ornamentation of 
the late Renaissance in France. He used the heavily scrolled cartouche, the fancy 
pilaster, the ponderous garland of fruits and flowers, the round cherub face and the 
fantastic shell. Doors and mantels were oppressively ornate and furniture, in 
order to conform to the same architectural scheme, was equally florid. 

The best furniture of this period the middle of the seventeenth century was 
of Flemish design. Furniture-makers were divided into two groups; those who 
followed the lead of Simon Vouet whose inspiration was of Italian origin, and 
those who clung to the simpler sturdy designs popular in the Low Countries. 
Thus the furniture of the Louis XIII epoch represents two types. The first 
was undoubtedly more in tune with the ornate decorative schemes of the day ; the 
second was unquestionably the more beautiful, though always a little incongruous 
with gilded walls. The direct Flemish influence of the late French Renaissance has 
been attributed to Rubens who visited Paris at the request of Marie de' Medici in 
the early part of the seventeenth century. This influence strengthened in the 
succeeding reign and did not end until the Louis XIV style was well established. 

The furniture of Louis XIII's time was much more varied than that of the 
preceding reign. There were sets of chairs; six or twelve single chairs, four arm- 
chairs, and two sofas all constructed on the same lines and upholstered in the same 
^manner. Designs in stuffs had changed. Bouquets, knots of ribbon, and garlands 

64 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



of flowers replaced the small and more classic patterns. Life was growing more 
luxurious and it was transforming furniture. It was not only transforming, it was 
creating. The divan with high curved back, padded with velvet or brocade, was 
the product of Louis XIII's reign; so also was the console. 

Prints and illuminations of the time of Louis XIII show a variety of chairs 
chairs for the master of the house, the mistress, the children, and special shapes 
for the servants. Litchfield says that the word "chaise," as a diminutive for 
"chaire," found its way into the French vocabulary at this period. 

With the inauguration of the scroll and shell a different form of arm-chair came 
into existence. The seat was lower, the arms more curving, the upholstery more 
comfortable. Severity of line was lost and with it the beauty of line also. To 
balance the broader and deeper seat, larger supports were necessary, and these 
gave to the chair a heaviness which the light and delicate ornament accentuated. 

This description applies to the French chair of Italian origin. The Flemish 
chair had a high seat, a comparatively low back, and turned legs connected by 
strong, rectangular braces. The French chair was supported by an X-brace, ter- 
minating in the center with a scroll. The chair designated as the "Regency of 
Anne of Austria," illustrated in Chapter IX, is a refined type of this style. The 
chair on page 57 combines the best characteristics of early seventeenth-century 
Flemish and French designing. Here is admirable construction united with 
admirable ornamentation. The outlines are Flemish but not extreme Flemish. 
The seat is lower and the back is higher than in many Flemish chairs of the 
period. The carving is French but is applied after the manner of the Flemish 
craftsmen. The turned legs and carved brace are Flemish, too, but treated with 
French delicacy. The presence of the cane back is worthy of note, for it is 
seldom found in French chairs of this period. The cane back was a characteristic 
feature of the Flemish chair of the late seventeenth century and in various 
guises was known in England, Italy, and Spain. The chair in Blois is a particu- 
larly attractive example, and illustrates the fact that in an age of excessive 
decoration there was an occasional designer who could follow the dictates of 
fashion and yet keep his work free from extravagance. In the Salon Louis XIII 
are chairs which illustrate the point in hand. They are built on prescribed 
lines but are severely plain. The circular X-brace is without carving and the 
arms are straighter than in many chairs of the day. There is no hint of the shell 
or the acanthus leaf in any part of the construction. 

This lofty apartment was decorated and furnished for Henri IV whose initials, 
combined with those of Marie de' Medici, are still visible in the painted cornice. 
The walls are divided into small panels painted with flowers and landscapes, and 
separated by carved borders. The large pictures form a permanent part of the 

66 



FURNITURE OF THE FRENCH RENAISSANCE 



decoration, and are the work of Ambroise Du Bo is. These huge canvases were 
painted for Henri IV and represent scenes from, the story of Theagenes and Char- 
icles. Between the pictures are carved arabesques of fruit and flowers picked out 
in gold. The room does not equal the gallery of Henri II in Fontainebleau, nor 
can it approach in simple 
grandeur the large apartment 
built by Fran9ois I in the 
chateau of Blois. 

The tables in this salon are 
noteworthy, for they exhibit a 
delicacy unknown in the Italian 
table of the day. The detached 
legs are held in place with a 
slight connecting base. The 
ornament is extremely refined. 
As the trestle table gave place 
to the bolt-and-slot table, and 
that to the table of the Renais- 
sance, and that in turn to the 
hideous baroque table, so the 
French table of the early seven- 
teenth century, faulty as it was 
in design, was slowly approach- 
ing the beautiful table of the 
eighteenth century when, free 
from base-boards and connect- 
ing rods, it stood on four inde- 
pendent supports. The result 
was an English production of 
the eighteenth century, but 
the French had a part in its 
evolution. 

Before Louis XIII's long reign was over the Renaissance had run its course. 
The history of ornament is the history of furniture and both repeat themselves. 
From a debased type slowly arose a vital one which, after shaking off the chrysalis 
stage, remained consistent for a brief period, then declined, and was finally 
superseded by a new force which in turn shared the fate of its predecessor. This 
waxing and waning continued until the early part of the nineteenth century 
when historic furniture, in the strict sense of the term, ceased to exist. 

67 




CABINET, LATE RENAISSANCE 



CHAPTER VI 

FURXITURE-MAKINd IX GERMAXY AXD THE LOW 
COUNTRIES 

CHARACTERISTICS OF THE STYLE: IX FLAXDERS AND HOLLAND AFTER 
A BRIEF PERIOD OF ASSIMILATION THE RENAISSANCE DEVELOPED 
OX ORIGINAL LINES. WOOD CARVERS ADAPTED THE ARABESQUE 
AXD THE CARTOUCHE TO A SIMPLER, STURDIER FORM OF ORNA- 
MENT THAX WAS KXOWX IN FRANCE AXD ITALY. HEADS AXD 
GROTESQUE MASKS WERE INTRODUCED INTO CABINET WORK, 
BUT ALWAYS WITH MARKED EFFECT. THE DUTCH EXCELLED 
IN MARQUETRY, AXD THE FLEMIXGS IN THE USE OF CANE, BOTH 
PHASES, OF WORK EXERTING A POWERFUL INFLUENCE ON THE 
FURXITURE-MAKING OF OTHER COUNTRIES. DURING THE EARLY 
SIXTEENTH CENTURY THE GERMANS COMBINED RENAISSANCE 
DETAILS WITH GOTHIC CONSTRUCTION. LATER A MORE CON- 
SISTENT TYPE WAS ESTABLISHED IN WHICH FINE METAL WORK 
WAS CONSPICUOUS. 



CHAPTER YI 

FURNITURE-MAKING IN GERMANY AND THE LOW COUNTRIES 

THE close connection politically between Flanders, Spain, and Germany 
brought about a curious affinity between the various phases of the Renais- 
sance known as Flemish, Spanish, and German. Charles, king of Spain was 
emperor of Germany, and also count of Flanders and duke of Burgundy. 
The intercourse between Spain and the Low Countries had for several centuries 
been very intimate. When Marie of Burgundy married Archduke Maximilian, 
Austria became a part of the royal circle which now included Spain, Germany, 
Holland, and Flanders. By this marriage the Low Countries were annexed to the 
Austrian crown, a rich possession at this period of the world's history. 

The development of the Renaissance in Holland and Flanders, with its subse- 
quent influence on the handicraft of other nations, is one of the most interesting 
chapters in the history of industrial art. Holland and Flanders accepted the move- 
ment tardily and never succumbed to it as did the French and the Italians. Just 
as Gothic ornament remained beautiful in the Low Countries long after it had 
become extravagant in France, so the ornament of the Renaissance remained cohe- 
rent long after it had become grotesque in France and England. 

Holland and Flanders reversed the usual order of Renaissance development. 
The early and middle periods were less creditable than the later phases. The 
Italians and the French achieved their triumphs before the advent of the seventeenth 
century, but the Dutch and the Flemings brought their work to perfection after 
the year 1600. If the English were the great furniture-makers of the eigh- 
teenth century, the inhabitants of the Low Countries were the great furniture- 
makers of the seventeenth. The part that Holland and Flanders played in Eng- 
land's triumphs cannot be overestimated. The late Jacobean and the Queen Anne 
styles, both of which were a preparation for the great eighteenth-century styles, 
were of Dutch origin. 

During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries Flemish and Dutch work 
was so closely allied that the two adjectives are often used interchangeably. 
Previous to this date there was a greater difference in the arts of the two 
countries. Flanders was more closely in touch with France, and Holland with 
Germany. The hall of the Gruuthuuse, shown on page 75, is a typical Flemish 
interior of a semi-public nature. The mantel is of stone and brick, with a simple 
hood, ornamented in low relief. The severity of this room is in startling contrast 

71 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



to the French apart- 
ments of the period. 
The chairs are of the 
type described in the 
previous chapter, hav- 
ing high seats, compara- 
tively low backs, and 
strong turned legs and 
braces. Of like con- 
struction is the Dutch 
chair in the Museum of 
Fine Arts, Boston, illus- 
trated on page 63. The 
table is similar to the 
English type of the late 
sixteenth century, but 
of a higher order of 
workmanship. Contem- 
porary with the table is 
the beautiful oak cup- 
board, reproduced on the 
following page. It is 
interesting to com- 
p a r e this sixteenth- 
century specimen with 
the fine fifteenth-cen- 
tury cupboard illustrated 
in Chapter III. Both are 
Flemish and both show 
a striking similarity of 
construction. The divi- 
sions of the doors, pan- 
els, and drawers are 
identical. The locks are 
placed in the same rela- 
tive position; the han- 
dles of the drawers are 

of the same variety; the hinges are of the same dimensions. The Renaissance 
cupboard has brackets and the Gothic cupboard has a heavier molding, but barring 

72 




CABINET OF DUTCH MARQUETRY 




FLEMISH CUPBOARD, SIXTEENTH CENTURY 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



these details the constructive qualities are one and the same. When it comes 
to ornament there is a hundred years' difference in time, and a world of difference 
in the treatment. Each is typical of its kind and each is a beautiful specimen of 
wood-carving. 

Flemish cabinet-making had a wide influence on the furniture-makers of other 
countries, but Flemish chair-making exerted a greater one. The chair with turned 
legs and braces traveled from one country to another, but no design equaled in 
traveling capacity the cane chair of Flanders. It found its way to France, Spain, 
England and later to America, each country adding a few characteristics. In 
England it took root so firmly that for years it was classed as Jacobean, and still 
masquerades as such in many old catalogues and inventories. The attributes of 
the pure Flemish design were a back and seat of finely woven cane, feet termi- 
nating in an outward scroll, three turned stretchers, and a carved under brace 
following in general lines the carving of the back The beautiful chair in Blois, 
described in the preceding chapter, is a French adaptation of the style. 

Holland's chief contribution to furniture-making of the seventeenth century 
was her exquisite marquetry. Holland's commercial intercourse with the orient 
gave her a knowledge of rare tropical woods, and it is not surprising that she was 
one of the first nations to use veneering as a form of decoration. Intarsia had 
been carried to a high degree of perfection in Italy. France later in the century 
gave to the world Andre Charles Boulle whose marvelous work in brass and 
shell stands unrivaled. Spain led in the intricate inlaying of ivory and silver 
a legacy from the Moors. But to Holland belongs the honor of bringing to per- 
fection the veneer of colored woods known as "marquetry." 

Hamilton Jackson in his book, Intarsia and Marquetry, says "The word 'in- 
tarsia' is derived from the Latin 'interserere,' to insert, according to the best Italian 
authorities, though Scherer says there was a similar word, 'tausia,' which was applied 
to the inlaying of gold and silver in some other metal, an art practiced in Damascus, 
and there called damascening; and that at first the two words meant the same 
thing, but after a time one was applied to work in wood and the other to metal- 
work. The word 'tausia' is said to be of Arabic origin, and there is no doubt that 
the art is oriental. It perhaps reached Europe either by way of Sicily or through 
the Spanish Moors. "Marquetry," on the other hand, is a word of much later origin, 
and comes from the French "marqueter," to spot, to mark. It seems, therefore, 
accurate to apply the former term to those inlays of wood in which a space is first 
sunk in the solid." 

After the accession of William of Orange Dutch marquetry was imported in 
great quantities in England, many pieces of which exist to-day in museums and 
private collections. The wealthy Dutch colonists in America possessed beau- 

74 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



tiful specimens of this work in the form of cupboards and kasses. These are 
still preserved by the descendants of the original owners and form, in their entirety, 
an almost complete history of the art as applied to the decoration of furniture 
from the middle of the seventeenth century until late in the eighteenth century. 

In Germany there was a long transitional period during which the lingering 
traditions of Gothic art died slowly. The early phases of the Renaissance show 
the grafting of the new upon the old. This mixture of Gothic and Renaissance 
was less successful in that country than in France where a happier union prevailed. 

The best examples of German wood-carving of the early sixteenth century were 
of ecclesiastical origin. Choir stalls and altar-pieces were richly decorated in the 
manner of the day. In domestic architecture the combination of Gothic con- 
struction and Renaissance ornament was less successful. A certain quaintness, 
however, marked all German handicraft of this period and early Renaissance 
specimens are eagerly sought to-day. Following the transitional period came the 
Flemish-German period in which a marked similarity existed between the work 




ROOM IN AN OLD DUTCH HOME, EDAM, HOLLAND, FURNITURE OP THE SEVENTEENTH AND 

EIGHTEENTH CENTURIES 

76 









GERMAN PRESS, TYPICAL EXAMPLE OF RENAISSANCE CARVING 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



of Flanders and Germany. Spanish influence was fleeting and was mainly confined 
to a curious ornamentation of silver and ivory based on Saracenic patterns. 

Toward the middle of the sixteenth century German handicraft became more 
individual and the late Renaissance development was a distinct phase. Not 
until the late seventeenth century, when German designers became engulfed in the 
extreme rococo, did the work of this nation lose its beauty and vitality. Augs- 
burg, Dresden, Munich, Cologne, and Nuremburg contain many sixteenth-century 
specimens. Chairs, cupboards, and presses of this period are beautiful specimens 
of wood-carving. The great presses of this century are the most characteristic 
pieces of furniture. Made of oak and walnut with carved panels and heavy 
doors they are as substantial to-day as when they came from the hands of their 
maker. The press, illustrated on the preceding page, is made of walnut with an 
unusually fine scheme of decoration. The plain surfaces are well distributed 
and the ornament, although elaborate, is neither heavy nor fantastic. The lock is 
concealed in the carving, while the key repeats the lines of the ornament. The 
ball-feet are worthy of note as they indicate a new feature of furniture-making. 



78 



CHAPTER VII 

FURNITURE OF THE SPANISH RENAISSANCE 

CHARACTERISTICS OF THE STYLE: A BLENDING OF RENAISSANCE 
AND MOORISH ORNAMENT LARGELY TINCTURED WITH FLEMISH 
INFLUENCE. FURNITURE-MAKERS COMBINED RARE WOODS WITH 
SILVER AND IVORY, DEPENDING UPON INLAY INSTEAD OF CARV- 
ING FOR DECORATIVE EFFECT. 



CHAPTER VII 

FURNITURE OF THE SPANISH RENAISSANCE 

AS Gothic ornament was largely dominated by Saracenic influence, so it was 
with the ornament of the Renaissance. Through all the work of Spanish 
craftsmen runs a vein of Moorish feeling. It is shown in all the arts, espe- 
cially in that of the wood-carver. Many pieces of furniture of this period are 
distinctly Moorish; others combine a strong Italian or Flemish influence. 

Furniture was imported in quantities and the fact that an old piece is found 
in Spain does not always indicate that it is of Spanish origin. Charles V, anxious 
to equal his royal brother-in-law in the splendor of his court, invited workmen 
from the important cities of Europe to establish their crafts in Seville, Toledo, 
Valladolid, and Vargua. Among the foreign workmen who took up their residence 
on Spanish soil were wood-carvers, tapestry- weavers, marqueters, inlayers, and 
goldsmiths. Moorish inlaying was already a perfected craft and visiting artisans 
in this branch learned more than they gave. The metal-work of the peninsula 
had been for centuries of a high order, especially in the way of damascening and 
niello work. 

Rare and beautiful woods entered into the composition of Spanish furniture 
during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. From her possessions in the 
east Spain imported ebony and ivory which were utilized in the making of 
coffers and cabinets' Many of the latter were plain on the exterior, except for 
beautifully wrought locks and hinges. The ornament was confined to the interior 
and was of exquisite workmanship. The connection between the chest and the 
cabinet seems to have been a close one in Spain. The massive cupboards and 
presses of the north found little favor among native designers. The typical 
Spanisji cabinet was an elevated chest supported by carved or turned columns. 
Instead of doors there was a drop lid which could be lowered by a turn of a key. 
Inside were many drawers and compartments ornamented in gold and vermilion, 
or showing the characteristic combination of ivory and silver. Miniature arches, 
colonnades, and doors were revealed by the turning key. "All somewhat bizarre," 
says an English critic, "and altogether rather barbarous, but a rich and effective 
treatment." Silver was used to such an extent in the making of furniture that it 
was forbidden by a royal edict in the latter part of the sixteenth century. "No 
cabinets, desks, coffers, braziers, tables, or other articles decorated with stamped, 
raised, carved, or plain silver should be manufactured." 

81 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



The influence of the Flemish cane chair on 
furniture-making of other nations has been men- 
tioned. The leather chair of Spain almost 
equaled it in importance. The Spanish design 
consisted of a sturdy frame of oak or chestnut, 
a back completely incased in leather, turned 
stretchers, a carved under-brace, and feet which 
have been termed "hoof" by collectors. The 
leather was of decorated Cordovan held in place 
by large nails. An interesting fate pursued this 
chair, together with the celebrated Flemish 
model. English furniture-makers combined the 
back of one with the feet of the other, some- 
times using cane, sometimes leather. The com- 
posite chair which reached America late in the 
seventeenth century, usually had Spanish feet 
grafted upon a Flemish framework. The inter- 
mingling of the two designs worked for good in 
many cases, for in the hands of skilful craftsmen 
the best points of the two were retained. The 
Spanish foot was undoubtedly more graceful than 
the Flemish, while the general outline of the 
Flemish chair was better than the Spanish. The 
Italians combined the various characteristics with 
marked success. The English were less success- 
ful in their treatment. 

In the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston is a beautiful high-backed leather chair. 
It has the scrolled under-brace, the fine hoof feet, and other distinctive marks of 
the pure Spanish type. It is one of the best examples of its kind in America. 

A characteristic Spanish -Flemish design may be found in the chapter entitled Colo- 
nial Furniture, page 172. This chair shows the mingling of the two styles, and is of 
English origin. 




SPANISH CHAIR, MUSEUM OF FINE 
ARTS, BOSTON 



82 



CHAPTER VIII 

ENGLISH FURNITURE OF THE SIXTEENTH AND 
SEVENTEENTH CENTURIES 

CHARACTERISTICS OF THE STYLE! FIRST THE ENGLISH RENAISSANCE 
OR TUDOR WHICH WAS A MINGLING OF FLEMISH AND ITALIAN 
GRAFTED UPON GOTHIC. SECOND, LATE TUDOR OR ELIZABETHAN, 
SHOWING GREATER UNITY; STRAP-WORK AND PANELING WERE 
FEATURES OF THIS PERIOD. THIRD, JACOBEAN COVERING NEARLY 
A CENTURY, AND INCLUDING MANY TYPES. FURNITURE WAS 
PANELED AND CARVED UNTIL WALNUT WAS INTRODUCED WHEN 
VENEER AND MARQUETRY BECAME POPULAR. AMONG JACOBEAN 
CHARACTERISTICS WERE THE SPIRAL LEG, THE RISING PANEL, 
"DOG TOOTH" AND SCROLL BORDERS, AND SPINDLE ORNAMENTS. 
WITH THE ACCESSION OF WILLIAM OF ORANGE, IN 1688, DUTCH 
INFLUENCE BECAME PARAMOUNT, AND ENGLISH FURNITURE 
WAS SLOWLY REVOLUTIONIZED THE PERFECTED STYLE BEING 
KNOWN AS QUEEN ANNE. 



CHAPTER VIII 

ENGLISH FURNITURE OF THE SIXTEENTH AND SEVENTEENTH 

CENTURIES 

WHEN Henry VIII returned from his meeting with Francois I and Charles 
V on the Field of the Cloth of Gold, he sought to introduce into England 
some of the magnificence that characterized the French court. Impor- 
tant changes in Windsor and Hampton date from this event. The great tide 
of the Renaissance, however, had reached England before this momentous gather- 
ing of sovereigns. 

Torrigiano, a contemporary of Leonardo da Vinci, was commissioned to erect 
the tomb of Henry VII. His treatment was naturally in the style of the Renais- 
sance which was approaching its first flower in Italy. Holbein's sojourn in England 
was an important link in the chain which was strengthened by distinguished visi- 
tors from France, Italy, and Flanders. 

The sixteenth century was a period of great architectural activity in England. 
Hardwick Hall and Longleat are splendid specimens of the early Renaissance. 
The castle of None Such erected by Henry VIII, were it now in existence, would 
form a valuable addition to Renaissance architecture, for it embodied the work 
of many celebrities. John of Padua was court architect and to him was intrusted 
the larger share of the work. It was the king's wish to have the palace equal Fon- 
tainebleau, and he spared no expense in carrying out this desire. 

The style known as "English Renaissance" or "Tudor" was a mingling of Italian, 
French, and Flemish, the latter largely predominating. It was not until the 
accession of Elizabeth that the style became distinctive. During her long reign 
greater encouragement was given to native workmen, and the style known as 
"Elizabethan" was much more English than that of the early Tudors. 

Two marked phases in interior work existed under the Tudor sovereigns. The 
first was developed in Henry VIII's time; the second reached its culmination 
under Elizabeth. The first was the "linen-fold" motive in wood paneling and 
furniture; the second was "strap- work," mentioned in connection with the Henri 
II period which was contemporaneous with the Elizabethan. From France via 
Flanders the linen pattern is supposed to have emanated, although its origin is 
somewhat obscure. It was introduced into England during the reign of Henry 
VII and appears to have won instant approval. Like strap-work it appealed 
strongly to English taste. The treatment of the pattern suggested folds of linen 
arranged in long, perpendicular lines. 

85 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



A room in Hampton Court is paneled in this manner and dates from the reign 
of Henry VIII. Haddon Hall, Parkham, and Oxbridge Castle contain rooms with 
similar woodwork. This scheme of decoration, which lasted for nearly a century 
in England, had no connection with the Renaissance. It has been called the latest 
survival of the Gothic and the last of mediaeval ornament. It was known in the 
monasteries of France long before it reached England, and it is possible that it 
may have been in use as early as 1450 in Flanders and Germany. In England its 
development was wholly secular and, with few exceptions, was confined to wall 
treatment. The folds were executed in low relief and, during the best period, 
were without ornament. A beautiful cupboard, carved in this manner, owned by 
Guy F. Laking, Esq., is shown in this chapter. This specimen belongs to the early 
sixteenth century and is of French origin. 

When Elizabeth came to the throne the linen pattern had lost its simplicity. 
It gradually declined in favor and another style took its place. The beauty of 
Elizabethan strap-work has been mentioned. The development of this scheme of 
decoration, like its predecessor, was of slow growth, and was not perfected until 
late in Elizabeth's reign. It survived this sovereign many years, finding favor 
under the Stuarts. Haddon and Hardwick Halls contain many examples of strap- 
work. Over the fireplace in the Presence chamber of Hardwick is a simple inter- 
pretation of the motif, combined with the round and oval lozenge. In the state 
dining-room is a stone chimney-piece with a more elaborate treatment. A plain 
entablature, with an inscription, is surrounded by intricate strap-work in which 
figures are introduced. The date of the completion of the hall, 1597, is cut 
in the stone. Hardwick as a whole is a magnificent example of Elizabethan 
decoration. 

The great Presence chamber shows another scheme of wall treatment which was 
in high favor towards the close of the sixteenth century. This was the plastered 
frieze used in connection with wood paneling or tapestry. The great tapestry- 
weaving districts of Flanders and the Loire were sending forth their beautiful 
productions to enrich the manor houses across the channel. The finest Flemish 
tapestries are of this century, and Hardwick has many beautiful specimens, the 
most elaborate hanging in the Audience or Presence room, which is illustrated in 
this chapter. Here the queen was received when she honored Bess of Hardwick, 
the Countess of Shrewsbury, with her visits. As a picturesque figure of her day 
Bess of Hardwick almost rivals Queen Bess. Her wit, her beauty, her money, and 
her many marriages have been the theme of numerous stories. As a romantic 
heroine for an historical novel the Countess of Shrewsbury leaves little to be 
desired, and no background could be more kaleidoscopic than beautiful old Hard- 
wick. The Presence chamber, where so many important events have been en- 




LINEN-FOLD CUPBOARD, SIXTEENTH CENTURY 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



acted, is in a beautiful state of preservation. Above the tapestry is the quaint 
frieze, once highly colored, but now faded to dim blues, greens, and yellows. Diana 
and her nymphs are represented in the plaster, together with strange birds and 
animals. The background is filled with stiff trees and the whole effect is quaintly 
decorative. 

The furniture of the room, with the exception of the stools with curved legs, 
belongs to the late sixteenth century. The table is the type that followed the 
board-and-trestle. The stretchers, or "struts," as they were then called in England, 
are a few inches from the ground. This long and narrow style remained the 
accepted form until late in the Stuart period. The round table with many 
turned supports, known in America as the "thousand-legged table," and in England 
as the "gate-leg table," was the successor of the heavy Elizabethan pattern. In 
the early Jacobean period (from the accession of James I until the beginning of the 
Commonwealth) many variations of the long table were in use. The legs were 
often skilfully turned, showing balls and rectangles, the struts were grooved, and 
carved with the "dog-tooth" pattern; occasionally brackets were placed beneath 
the top, ornamented in similar manner. 

Chairs, as the seventeenth century progressed, became more varied and were 
constructed with a greater regard for comfort. During the Tudor period there were 
few chairs in general use. Benches and stools were the common seats of the day. 
The Flemish chair, with high seat and low back, was placed in halls and audience 
rooms. It was seldom seen in the homes. The turned chair, with crude supports 
and heavy spindles, was a more common style and is interesting to Americans, 
inasmuch as it was the earliest type imported in the colonies. Governor Carver 
and Elder Brewster brought turned chairs with them in the Mayflower which are 
now exhibited in Pilgrim Hall, Plymouth. 

The most important chair of Elizabeth's day and of the succeeding reign was 
the wainscot chair which, as its name indicates, was of oak. This was a mas- 
sive piece of workmanship, far above the turned chair in point of execution / and 
often carved with strap-work, scrolls and bits of Renaissance ornament. A plain 
example of the wainscot chair is seen in Liberty Hall, Philadelphia, and a more 
elaborate specimen in the Essex Institute, Salem. The latter is a fine piece 
of Elizabethan furniture and would be rated as such in England. 

The wainscot table was a little later in date than the wainscot chair. It was 
a combination chair and table, the back of the seat forming the top of the table. 
It did not supersede the long table previously mentioned, but was used in connec- 
tion with it until the more convenient " gate-leg table" became the accepted pat- 
tern. Esther Singleton, in writing of oak furniture of the sixteenth and seven- 
teenth centuries, says of the word wainscot: "The name, according to Skeat, 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



being derived from the low Danish "wagenschot", the best kind of oak wood, well 

grained and without knots That wainscot was applied to the wood 

rather than the paneling we learn from Harrison's Historical Description of the 
Land of Britaine (1587), where he says, 'that the oak grown in Bardfield Park, 
Essex, is the finest for joiner's craft, for ofttimes have I scene of their works made 
of that oak so fine and fair as most of the wainscot that is brought hither out of 
Danske.' " 

The word "joined" is a frequent one in old annals. In 1574 an inventory of 
the furniture in Thomas Cumberworth's house included: "A presse of waynscott 
wt diverse shelffes, 3 thrown cheyers, 3 joyned forms, 2 joyned tables, 1 pair of 
bedstocks, 1 grete waynscott cheyer, 1 waynscott bed, 1 court-cupboarde, 6 
joyned stools." Joined furniture was made without nails, being fastened with 
mortise and tenon, a method almost as old as furniture-making itself. Presses and 
cupboards continued to be of colossal dimensions, and by their construction offered 
scope for intricate strap-work, paneling and figure work. "Court" and "livery" 
cupboards are frequently mentioned in sixteenth century inventories. Many are 
the interpretations by modern writers of the words "court" and "livery." The 
former is sometimes translated "short," the latter "service." Whatever their 
original meaning may have been it is certain that during the late seventeenth 
century, both in England and America, the words "court" and "livery" were used 
interchangeably, and always in connection with a high cupboard inclosed with 
doors. Many early allusions to this piece of furniture include silverware. In 
Romeo and Juliet, a servant in Capulet's house says: "Away with joint stools, 
remove the court cupboard, look to the plate." In Chapman's May Day, pub- 
lished in 1611, occur the lines, "And so for the feast, you have your court cupboards 
planted with flagons, cups, beakers, bowls, goblets, basins, and ewers"; and again: 
"Here shall stand my court cupboard, with its furniture of plate." Another refer- 
ence reads, "With a lean visage like a carved face on a court cupboard." 

The piece of furniture thus designated in Thomas Cumberworth's inventory was 
doubtless unlike the press, and from the fact that the word "wainscot" is not 
used, was probably not of oak. The "thrown" chairs mentioned were of the turned 
variety. This inventory is interesting as it shows the furniture in a home of 
an Englishman of the middle class. "Bedstocks" were built into the wall and were 
the common beds of the period, setting aside the pallets of straw which were still 
used by the lower classes. The "great bed" mentioned was probably of carved 
oak and the most important piece of furniture in the house. The bedsteads of 
Elizabeth's day were huge affairs, many of them of great value. Some of the finer 
ones are preserved in the old manor houses and show a strange mingling of Renais- 
sance and Gothic. In the homes of the nobility there was always a state bed, 

90 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



kept in readiness for a possible 
visit from the sovereign. The beds 
slept in by Elizabeth are past 
counting, and Scottish beds asso- 
ciated with Mary Stuart are almost 
as numerous. 

The Stuart period, begin- 
ning with James I and ending 
with the reign of Queen Anne, 
covered more than a century. The 
early Jacobean style was an out- 
growth of the Elizabethan. Dur- 
ing the reign of James I there 
was little change in furniture 
making. With the accession of 
Charles I the Jacobean style be- 
came more firmly established. 
Homes were more comfortably 
furnished than at any previous 
time and the mode of living was 
more refined. Queen Henriette 
Marie was partly responsible for 
the greater refinement of the court. 
England was far behind France 
in the small comforts of life and 
the Queen's influence in this direc- 
tion was beneficial; so also was 
that of Van Dyck. The great 
Flemish painter came to England 
at this period in order to paint the royal family. Those matchless portraits of the 
Stuart children did not comprise all of Van Dyck's work on English soil. His 
visit was scarcely less momentous than that of Holbein a century before. 

Inigo Jones, sometimes called "The English Palladio/'* was at the height of his 
fame when Charles came to the throne. Christopher Wren was born seven years 
later, his long life spanning nearly a century, 1632-1723. The influence of these 
two men was very great, not only upon the architecture of the day, but upon the 
decorative arts, and especially upon furniture-making. The work of Jones was 
more closely identified with the early Stuarts and that of Wren with the later 
Jacobean period. 

92 




SEVENTEENTH CENTURY CUPBOARD 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



One of the distinctive features of Jacobean furniture was the spiral leg which 
is seen in chairs, cupboards, and chests of drawers. The finest type of spiral was 
not of the turned variety, but carved by hand. The most interesting pieces of 
this period were elevated cupboards standing on high spiral supports. 

During the Commonwealth progress was retarded. The conditions of the country 
were not such as to foster the work of the decorator and furniture-maker. With 
the Restoration came prosperity and a renewed interest in the arts of peace. 
Charles II had spent a large part of his life in France and was thoroughly imbued 
with luxurious ideas which he had profitably studied at the court of Louis XIV. 
Furniture of this reign is somewhat grotesque, combining a medley of designs, 




TAPESTRY WOVEN BY MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS 

French, English, and Flemish. One marked change for good was the tendency 
toward lighter, more graceful forms. The introduction of walnut made a startling 
difference in furniture-designing. The wood did not lend itself to carving and 
new effects were obtained by veneer and inlay. Cupboards and chests of the late 
seventeenth century show a variety of decoration. One unique scheme of orna- 
ment had a great vogue in England and was widely copied in this country. A 
plain surface was ornamented with turned pieces of a different wood, cut in the 
shape of ovals, drops, spindles, and nail heads. Sometimes the pieces were painted, 
in order to give variety to the scheme. According to Dr. Irving W. Lyon, the 
pioneer writer on colonial furniture in America, drop ornaments were first used by 
Peter Koek, a Fleming, who decorated his furniture with carrot-shaped pieces of 
painted wood. "Nail heads" the same writer traces to a Norman origin, stating 
that the true nail head was diamond-shaped. Some of this applied-ornament is 
highly decorative, and marks a distinct epoch in furniture-making. Paneling 
during the Stuart period remained in favor and was diversified by diamond- 

94 



FURNITURE OF SIXTEENTH AND SEVENTEENTH CENTURIES 

shaped moldings. The "rising" panel belongs to this period and the depressed or 
sunken panel to Elizabeth's reign. 

A characteristic example of applied-ornament is shown in the chest of draw- 
ers in Memorial Hall, Deerfield, Massachusetts. According to tradition this piece 
of furniture was brought from Scotland in the late seventeenth century. 

The adjective "Jacobean" has been variously interpreted by furniture writers; some 
limiting the word to the reigns of James I and James II, others using it in a broader 
sense and including the furniture of the entire Stuart line. The term is used in the 
wider meaning in this chapter 

The accession of William of Orange, in 1688, was a turning-point in English 
furniture-making. The best that Holland possessed passed into England, and 
from that date a beautiful simplicity was manifest in English handicraft. The 
Flemish chair of cane had already influenced chair-making, and was a distinctive 
feature of the late Jacobean period. Prominent among Dutch innovations was 
the cabriole leg, a furniture accessory which was destined to revolutionize the chair, 
the table, and the chest of drawers. Marquetry was freely used over large plain 
.surfaces, and with its popularity paneling declined in favor. 

Changes in furniture-making are gradual. It was not until the reign of Queen 
Anne that the Dutch and English designs were assimilated. The perfected style 
is known by the name of this sovereign and belongs to the early part of the 
eighteenth century. 



95 



CHAPTER IX 

LOUIS XIV FURNITURE 

CHARACTERISTICS OF THE STYLE: A FORMAL ROCOCO IN WHICH PRO- 
PORTION" AND BALANCE WERE SALIENT FEATURES. IMPORTANT 
DETAILS WERE THE SHELL, THE CLASSIC ACANTHUS, THE RAM's 
HEAD, THE MASK, AND THE SATYR. IN THE EARLY PERIOD FUR- 
NITURE WAS MASSIVE AND THE DESIGNS OF THE LOUIS XIII STYLE 
WERE PERPETUATED. CARVING WAS LARGELY SUPERSEDED BY 
MARQUETRY AND BY CHISELED MOUNTS OF ORMOLU AND BRONZE. 



CHAPTER IX 

LOUIS XIV FURNITURE 

THE three styles known respectively as Louis XIV, Louis XV, and Louis 
XVI, form an important chapter in the history of furniture-making. The 
Louis XIV was characterized by bold effects, lavish, but not excessive, 
decoration, and faultless execution. Dignity and a certain massive grandeur 
marked the work of the best "Quatorze" furniture. The Louis XV was the cul- 
mination of the rococo school when balance and proportion were considered less 
important than beauty of detail. The Louis XVI was a return to simpler designs 
and a more restrained type of ornament. This reaction was partly due to the 
influence of Marie Antoinette, partly to the newly awakened interest in classic 
forms, prompted by the discoveries at Pompeii, and partly to the inevitable swing- 
ing of the pendulum from an extreme taste to a simpler one. 

Louis XIV reigned seventy-two years, and during that time fashions in cos- 
tumes and in furniture changed rapidly. There were, however, certain qualities that 
stamped the handicraft of the period and which rendered it distinctive. Under 
Louis XIV all the industries of France prospered. This was in a great measure 
the result of Colbert's able administration. It was Colbert who suggested to the 
king the wisdom of purchasing the Gobelin manufactory and of placing Lebrun 
at the head of it as art director; Colbert who organized the lace industries in the 
provinces, thus turning into French coffers the vast sums that had been previously 
expended on Italian and Flemish laces; Colbert who founded the Academy of 
Painters and Sculptors an association which numbered in its ranks masters of 
all arts. Thus painters, sculptors, architects, designers, decorators, engravers, 
and wood-carvers were banded together, working under a common impulse. The 
academy first occupied an apartment in the Louvre, but later centralized its efforts 
at the Gobelin factory where, under the direction of Lebrun, royal orders were 
executed. Here the Louis XIV style was perfected. Previous to this date, 1667, 
the standards of the preceding reign had influenced design. 

Louis was five years of age when his father, Louis XIII, died. During his 
minority the queen regent and Cardinal Mazarin practically ruled. Anne was a 
woman of luxurious tastes, and did much to foster the increasing desire at court 
for costly surroundings. In this she was ably assisted by Mazarin whose love 
for richly decorated rooms and sumptuous furniture drew heavily on the national 
exchequer. The regency was brief, for Louis, according to the laws of France, 

99 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



reached his majority at the age of thirteen, but during that period he had learned 
a lesson in extravagance that was destined to bear fruit at Versailles 

It was not until the death of Mazarin that the young king displayed the qualities 

of leadership which made him 
the central figure in Europe. 
No previous monarch of France 
had so dominated other nations. 
His marriage with Marie The- 
resa, daughter of Philip IV, 
gave him a hold on Spain 
and Austria; his invasion of 
Franche-Comte, a footing in 
Flanders; his conquest of sev- 
eral Dutch provinces, a grasp 
on Holland; his purchase of 
Dunkirk from Charles II, a 
loophole in England. All these 
interests had an influence on 
the arts of the day. Spanish, 
Dutch, Italian, and Scotch 
craftsmen were invited to 
compete with French artisans. 
It was the desire of Colbert to 
limit foreign importations, and 
to this end he established many 
native industries. Under his 
administration visiting design- 
ers were encouraged to stay 
until the secrets of their work 
had been acquired. They were 
then politely dispatched to their 
own country laden with hon- 
ors, and sometimes pensioned. 

When the palace of Versailles was decorated and furnished, few foreigners had a 
part in the work. It was a triumph of French taste and skill, and as such it 
remains to-day. 

Louis XIII had erected a hunting-lodge at Versailles and later remodeled it 
into a chateau. On this site, and keeping intact the older building, the present 
palace was built. The architect was Jules Hardouin Mansart and the landscape- 

100 




CHAIR IN VERSAILLES, REGENCY OF ANNE OF AUSTRIA 



LOUIS XIV FURNITURE 



gardener Andre Le Notre. The greatest artists of the day were employed in dec- 
orating the interior and the greatest designers in planning the furnishings. The 
finest products of the silk and tapestry looms of France were utilized for the hang- 
ings. The rarest woods of the world were selected for the furniture. Craftsmen 
of the kingdom vied with each other in perfecting their art so that the palace of 
Le Grand Monarque should stand unrivaled. 

Madame de Sevigne who penned so 
many graphic pictures of court life, 
wrote, in 1676, to her daughter: "Let 
me inform you, my child, of a change 
of scene which will appear to you as 
agreeable as it does to every one. I 
went to Versailles on Saturday. This 
is how things are disposed. You are 
acquainted with the toilette of ihe 
queen, the mass, the dinner; but it is 
no longer necessary to be bored while 
their majesties are at table, for at three 
o'clock, the king, the queen, all the 
princes and the princesses there are, 
Madame de Montespan and all her 
suite, all the courtiers, all the ladies, in 
a word, what is called the court of 
France, find themselves in that fine 
apartment of the king that you know. 
All is furnished divinely; all is magnifi- 
cent." 

We may regret that Madame's 
daughter was familiar with the "apart- LOUIS xiv CLOCK 

ment of the king," for otherwise a 

spirited description would have followed. The writer describes the music and 
games with which the court is entertained: 

"That agreeable confusion without confusion of all that is most select lasts 
from three to six. At that hour their majesties enter their carriages. Some go 
in gondolas on the canal, w r here there is music. At ten o'clock all return, when 
a comedy is performed; midnight strikes and then all is over." 

The apartment to which Madame de SeVigne" referred was undoubtedly the 
Salon de la Guerre, mentioned by Mrs. Kingsley in her fine description of the palace. 

"Nowhere," she says, "has interior decoration been carried to a further point 

101 




HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



of perfection than in Versailles where we are offered the most splendid examples 
possible of the Louis XIV style. It may be all wrong in the eyes of architectural 
purists, but for sheer magnificence of effect, for actual richness of detail in marble 
and painting, in gilded stucco, carved wood, superb gilt-bronze, it cannot be sur- 
passed. Take, for example, the 
Salon de Mars. The modillions 
of the grand golden cornice are 
empty casques. And in the 
covings of the ceiling are golden 
trophies and cupids in gilt 
stucco riding eagles and taming 
wolves. Golden wreaths frame 
the paintings of the ceiling by 
Audran, depicting Mars in his 
chariot. Or, again, the Salon 
d'Apollon, with its ceiling 
by Lafosse and its winged 
muses of extreme beauty, on 
which the great sculptor Coy- 
sevox did not refuse to work. 
But all this glory of decorative 
art culminates in the Grand 
Galerie and the Salon de la 
Guerre. Here decoration with 
one object ever in view, the 
glorification of the king, can 
scarcely be carried further. The 
coved roof represents in thirty 
subjects the history of the 
Grand Monarque, painted un- 
der the direction of Lebrun, 
from his most carefully prepared designs. Boileau and Racine composed the 
inscriptions for each of these subjects, which are set in carved and gilded 
sculpture of indescribable richness and variety. The great trophies of gilt-bronze 
upon magnificent colored marbles and the twenty-four groups in gilded stucco are 
due to Coysevox. The capitals of the pilasters, the frames of the Venetian mir- 
rors, all the details of ornament, are by the first artists of the day. In the Salon 
de la Guerre, in Coysevox's immortal bas-relief, the king, young, radiant, trium- 
phant, tramples nations in chains under his horse's feet. When we add to the 

102 




BOULLE CONSOLE, EARLY LOUIS XIV 




BUREAU, LATE LOUIS XIV 

^ 

decorations that have survived war and revolution all that have been lost, the 
statues, carved cabinets above all, the famous silver mobilier made at the Gobe- 
lin's to adorn the gallery, we get an idea of splendoralmost unequaled. Most of 
the treasures are dispersed or destroyed. The silver furniture was sent to the 
mint in 1690 to defray the expenses of the war against the teague of Augsburg." 
In contrast with these regal apartments which show the grandiose side of the 
Louis XIV style is the room decorated and furnished for Madame de Maintenon, in 
Fontainebleau. Here the simple phase is illustrated. Barring certain details in 
the decorations, such as the "L" and the crown, this room is doubtless a 
prototype of the salon in many private houses. The plain panels, the simple 
mantel, and the substantial chairs are far more valuable from the decorative 
standpoint than the gilded grandeur of the Salon de la Guerre. 

In France the distinction between the salon de compagnie and the salon de 
jamille has always been emphasized. It is unfortunate that modern decorators in 

103 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



treating a room in Louis XIV or Louis XV style neglect the simple aspect of the 
style, which, with the exception of state apartments and ball-rooms, is the only 
side suitable for reproduction in an American home. The gorgeous rooms in Ver- 
sailles are chosen as models, rather than the plainer apartments in Fontainebleau 
or the Trianons. 

Many pieces of furniture belonging to palace and to private house were 
destroyed at the time of the Revolution, but enough remain to show the 
trend of the Louis XIV period. The Renaissance raised furniture-making to the 
dignity of an art, but it was not until the reign of Louis XIV that furniture- 
makers individually ranked as artists. Some of the cabinet-makers of that day 
were as renowned as the painters, and one at least made a name for himself that 
has outlived the fame of many of his brothers of the brush. This man was Andre 
Charles Boulle. In 1672 he became Sbeniste to the king and was granted quarters 
in the Louvre. The royal patent conferred upon him the title of "Engraver in 
Ordinary of the Royal Seals," and also designated him as "architect, painter, 
carver in mosaic, artist in cabinet-work / chaser, inlayer, and designer." 

Boulle was a man of many talents, but his fame rests chiefly on a unique 
marquetry of tortoise shell and brass with which he ornamented his furniture. 
He was not the inventor of the process, but he carried it to such a point of excel- 
lence that the name of the originator has been overlooked. Doubtless some chest 
or casket of oriental workmanship suggested to French cabinet-makers this form 
of decoration. Royal inventories of the late fourteenth century mention Damascus 
caskets of shell overlaid with silver. Joan, first wife of Louis XII, numbered 
among her dower chests one of ivory and horn inlaid with copper. Boulle's handi- 
work was quite unlike oriental marquetry in point of execution, but it bore a slight 
resemblance to it in general effect. His method was to cover the piece of furni- 
ture to be decorated with a veneer of shell, over which brass cuttings were fas- 
tened. Small brass nails secured the metal to the shell background and these were 
deftly engraved to form part of the design. Shells, scrolls, acanthus foliage, and 
other characteristic bits of ornament were represented in the brass. Metal mounts 
and moldings were a feature of the work. Masks, satyrs, and cupids were some of 
the designs used as garnitures. The ram's head was a favorite with Boulle, and 
may be found on many of his pieces. These mounts were usually of ormolu, a 
composition of gold, mercury and copper which was applied to the brass to give 
it the appearance of gold. Sometimes the process of veneer was reversed and 
upon a brass foundation shell was appliqued. When the shell was overlaid with 
brass, it was called "first part," or "boulle," and when the brass formed the back- 
ground, with shell ornamentation, it was termed "second part" or "counter." 
When both were combined in the same piece of furniture it was "boulle and 

104 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



counter." Other terms were "new boulle" and "old boulle." The former referred 
to the practice of placing color beneath the shell. Brilliant effects were obtained 
by lining the shell with scarlet or gold-leaf. This combination was the work of 
Andre's imitators, and found little favor with the master himself. Boulle's own 
handicraft was marked by a refinement which his followers were unable to copy. 
Many of Boulle's designs were furnished by Lebrun and executed under his super- 
vision. 

The console in the Louvre, illustrated on page 102, is an example of his early 
work. It combines "boulle" and "counter," and is a representative piece. It also 
shows the massive type of furniture in vogue during the early Louis XIV period. 
The console depends entirely on the marquetry and metal mounts for interest; the 
outline is heavy to the verge of cumbersome. The supports are of the pedestal 
order and are a survival of the preceding reign. The pedestal support is important 
as indicating the date of the piece. 

Later furniture shows a curving leg, still massive, but more graceful. The 
supports of the early eighteenth century are more slender, and approximate the 
Louis XV style. The two extremes may be studied in the console mentioned 
and in the bureau on page 103. 

The chair reproduced belongs to the early Louis XIV period. It was made 
during the regency of Anne of Austria, and has the heavy supports of the Louis 
XIII period. The acanthus leaf is the chief motive in the decoration, as it is in 
most of the chairs of that day. The leaf is well modeled and is in low relief, a 
marked contrast to its later development when endless foliations replaced the 
severer handling. Beauvais tapestry forms the upholstery and fringe in corre- 
sponding colors adds a finish to the seat and back. 

Later chairs show a bolder treatment of the acanthus and a more ornate 
frame. The pedestal supports are still in evidence, but the lines have changed 
somewhat. The arms have a deeper curve and have lost something in beauty. It 
is a point worthy of notice that the arms of the Renaissance chairs were quite 
straight, and that the curve was of gradual growth. Chair legs in France re- 
mained straight until late in the seventeenth century - when the general tendency 
towards flowing lines altered the supports of chairs, tables, and cabinets. During 
the last fifteen years of Louis XIV's reign (1700-1715) every article of furniture, 
except the bed, conformed to rococo outlines. Rococo ornament had long held 
sway, but shapes as a whole had been severe. 

The bed had undergone several changes. The lower posts were discarded and 
the canopy was suspended from the cornice. The bed in the king's chamber at 
Versailles shows to what an extent the decoration of this article of furniture could 
be carried. The headboard of this royal structure is carved in the best manner 

106 




HEADBOARD, LOUIS XIV BEDSTEAD, VERSAILLES 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



of the period. The mask with radiations, surrounded by the laurel wreath, the 
acanthus scrolls, and the shell are all characteristic. The mask represented the 
sun and the radiations the beams. This was a compliment to his majesty whose 
power was without limit. The hangings of the bed are of Gobelin tapestry and 
Lyons velvet. 

Ebony, oak, walnut, and chestnut were the woods most in favor with furniture- 
makers. Rare woods, like sandal and tulip, were used as panels to give color and 
variety. When to this combination onyx, porphyry, and lapis lazuli were added, 
the whole ornamented with ormolu frames and mounts, only a prophet in furni- 
ture could have predicted that a succeeding style would carry decoration a point 
further. 

The Louis XIV style was suited to the monarch who delighted in being called 
le grand and who desired to be painted in the character of Jove hurling thunder- 
bolts at trembling Europe. It was fitted for palaces but, save in its plainest 
aspect, was little suited for the homes of those born outside the purple. 

That elaborate furniture was not confined to the court may be gathered from 
letters and inventories of the celebrated cabinet-makers of the day. Boulle made 
many pieces for the wealthy citizens of Paris, particularly in the later years of 
his life when the king's fancy had turned to the work of younger men. Boulle 
lived to be ninety years of age, surviving his royal patron more than a decade. 
The list of cabinets, consoles and armoires designed by him is a long one. Much 
of his work, like that of his contemporaries, was destroyed at the time of the 
Revolution. 



108 



CHAPTER X 

LOUIS XV FURNITURE 

CHARACTERISTICS OF THE STYLE: THE EXTREME ROCOCO IN WHICH 
THE PRINCIPAL DETAILS WERE THE BROKEN SHELL, THE CURLED 
ENDIVE, AND THE SPIRAL SCROLL. BALANCE AND SYMMETRY 
WERE LESS IMPORTANT IN THE EYES OF FURNITURE-MAKERS 
THAN RICHNESS OF ORNAMENT AND FAULTLESS EXECUTION. 
ANGLES GAVE PLACE TO CURVES, AND THE TALENTS OF THE 
GOLDSMITH AND THE PAINTER WERE UTILIZED IN DESIGNING 
FURNITURE WHICH, IN POINT OF WORKMANSHIP, HAS NEVER 
BEEN SURPASSED. 



CHAPTER X 

LOUIS XV FURNITURE 

INHERE were no clearly defined lines between the Louis XIV and the Louis 
XV styles of furniture. The sweeping curves and ornate decorations which 
characterized the designs of the early "Quinze" period were the natural out- 
growth of the late "Quatorze" epoch. From the time that Pierre Mignard 
succeeded Lebrun, as art director, a gradual change had taken place in all handi- 
craft. Instead of one controlling force there were a dozen influences. Designers, 
free from the restraint of obeying one master mind, worked on independent lines. 
In rare cases this was productive of good. The arts as a whole suffered seriously. 
With the death of the Grand Monarque the last of the seventeenth-century tradi- 
tions passed away. 

Louis XV, like his great predecessor, was only five years of age when he was 
proclaimed king. During his minority the office of regent devolved upon the duke 
of Orleans. This term of eight years, 1715-1723, was an important period in the 
history of decorative art, The old court with its stately ceremonies, its pomp 
and magnificence was gone, and in its place was a new court bent on the lightest 
and gayest amusements. The formal arrangement of rooms, the classic treat- 
ment of walls and furniture, found little favor with the regent and his followers. 
To conform to the tastes of the day decorators introduced the extreme rococo. 
The broken shell 'the twisted acanthus, the curled endive, and the flowing scroll 
formed a part of interior woodwork. The cornice, the wainscot, the mantel, 
the moldings of windows and doors, the frames of panels and pictures, em- 
bodied one and the same idea. To harmonize with this setting furniture was, 
of necessity, constructed on similar lines. Plain surfaces were abhorred. Every- 
thing glittered with elaborate mounts of bronze and ormolu; everything was orna- 
mented to such a degree that its real purpose became a secondary consideration. 
Several pieces of furniture were sometimes combined in one in order to give wood 
and metal-workers greater scope for ingenuity. Some of the regency designs are 
strange combinations of writing-desks, bureaus, and timepieces. The workman- 
ship of this fantastic furniture is of a high order; the greatest artists of the day 
bestowed their skill upon it. While it does not surpass in beauty of execution 
the work of the masterly band who designed furniture for Louis XIV, it equals 
it in many ways. A few of the great cabinet-makers, who were associated with 
Lebrun, lived to execute orders for the regent, and also for Louis XV. 

Ill 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



Charles Cressent, a pupil of Boulle, and one of his most noted followers was 
closely identified with the style of the regency. Dubois and the elder Caffieri were 
among the number who adapted their methods to the tastes of the time. Boulle 

was less flexible. With the 
spirit of the day he was 
never in touch. His work 
belongs so entirely to the 
"Quatorze" period, it is such 
a complete expression of the 
formalism of the seventeenth 
century, that it is impossible 
to associate him with the 
succeeding epoch. He pro- 
duced much that was fine 
in the latter years of his life, 
but it bears little resem- 
blance to the handicraft of 
his contemporaries. 

Among the painters of 
the regency who lent their 
talents to the embellishing 
of walls and furniture were 
Lancret and Watteau. 
Among the hosts of interior 
decorators, who designed fur- 
niture were Meissonier, de 
Cotte, Boffrand, Oppenord, 
and Pineau. Meissonier was 
the real leader of the rococo 
school. To him is credited 
the introduction of the 

GOBELIN TAPESTRY DESIGNED BY BOUCHER AND TESSIER, broken Shell, and the COUnt- 

1757. EXECUTED BY NEiLsoN less twists and twirls which 

were such a feature of French 

decoration during the eighteenth century. His defiance of the rules of balance 
and proportion delighted the duke of Orleans, who gave him many commissions. 
Meissonier disregarded all principles of symmetry and sought to obtain novel 
effects by introducing startling contrasts. One side of a cabinet or console would 
often be treated in a manner quite different from the other. He was consistent 

112 





LOUIS XV SOFA, PETIT TRIANON 

only in that he carried his scheme of contrasts to a very fine point. In 
furnishing a room every detail conformed to this erratic treatment. Meissonier 
-achieved considerable fame and lived to see his work extolled and condemned. 
That he had a powerful influence on the arts of the day his many enemies 
could not deny. Flemish, German, and English cabinet-makers borrowed 
extensively from him. Chippendale, in his early days, patterned many of his 
designs after Meissonier. His book of drawings for furniture, The Gentle- 
man and Cabinet-maker's Director, bears more than a chance resemblance to 
the work of the Frenchman. Some of the designs for state beds, bureaus, and 
commodes surpass the most extravagant conceptions of Meissonier, and emphasize 
the fact that rococo ornament in the hands of the English passed even beyond the 
limit placed upon it by the French. 

The work of the great furniture-makers of the regency and of the Louis XV 
period had certain qualities of elegance and grace, which foreign wood-workers were 
unable to imitate. This is especially noticeable in the German and Italian handi- 
craft of the day. The German rococo and the Italian baroque combine all the 
faults of the style rocaille without any of its redeeming features. There was no 
suggestion of heaviness in the most ornate piece of French furniture. Fantastic 
as the design often was there was no hint of absurdity in its construction or decora- 
tion. Possessing a discrimination which the German and the Italian did not share, 
the Frenchman was able to preserve the narrow line that separated the extrava- 

113 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



gant from the grotesque. Symmetry, which was such an important factor in the 
eyes of the furniture-makers of the Louis XIV period, was lacking in the work of 
many of the later craftsmen. 

Louis XIV carried his love of balance to such a point that Madame de Main- 
tenon once wrote, "The king will have us all buried in symmetry." Such fine 
distinctions did not trouble Louis XV, nor the men and women of his court, 
whose favor or disapproval made or marred the success of an artist. 

The group of men decorators, designers, furniture-makers, workers in metal 
and marquetry who spent their lives in the endeavor to please a capricious court 
formed a large and notable body. Within the compass of a single chapter it is 
not possible to give more than a brief mention of the great artist-artisans of this 
period. Many volumes would be needed to treat in an adequate way French handi- 
craft of the eighteenth century. The subject of furniture alone, if presented in 
all its phases, would demand a chapter on the great tapestry industries of France, 
another on Sevres porcelain, a third on metals, and a fourth on lacquer. Wood 
alone formed but an insignificant part in the making of a large portion of the Louis 
XV furniture. Marquetry had its place, but the pieces in which marquetry alone 
is used for ornamentation are very rare. The talents of the tapestry-weaver, of the 
potter, and of the goldsmith, were utilized to produce those marvelous cabinets 
and commodes which to-day, when offered for sale, bring prices which can scarcely 
be expressed in less than four figures. 

Among the men who made this sumptuous furniture may be mentioned Rie- 
sener, Cressent, Leleu, Oeben, Rontgen, Duplessis, Pasquier, Carlin, Hervieu, 
Gouthiere, and the Caffieri. Jacques and Philippe Caffieri belonged to a famous 
family of metal-workers. Jacques was a son of Filippo Caffieri, who came to France 
from Italy about the middle of the seventeenth century. He had served Pope 
Alexander VII with distinction but, tempted by the reports of the generosity of 
Louis XIV, joined the band of workers at the Gobelins. For more than a century 
the name of Caffieri was closely associated with French furniture. The metal 
mounts and moldings which came from the workshop of Jacques and his son 
Philippe were not surpassed by those of any other designer. The exquisite finish of 
their metal-work was notable in an age when beauty of execution was the rule 
rather than the exception. The commode with bombe or curving front was the usual 
medium chosen by them to display their intricate garnitures of bronze and ormolu. 

Pierre Gouthiere followed the methods of the Caffieri. He and Riesener were 
younger men and were identified with both the Louis XV and the Louis XVI 
styles. Gouthiere executed many beautiful pieces of furniture for the duchess 
du Barry. At the time of her execution she owed seven hundred and fifty-six 
thousand livres for furniture designed and ornamented by him. The government 

114 



LOUIS XV FURNITURE 



refused to pay this sum, and after end- 
less lawsuits the ill-fated Gouthiere died 
in poverty. His work lacked the 
strength of that of Philippe Caffieri and 
Charles Cressent, but it was marked by 
elegance and great delicacy. A dull 
gold finish, which he is said to have 
invented, makes it possible to distin- 
guish his unsigned work. In 1858 the 
marquis of Hertford desired to have a 
replica of one of Gouthiere's most fa- 
mous pieces, the "Cabinet d'Artois," at 
Windsor. To produce this copy, years 
were given to the task, and the cost, 
including the delicately chased mounts, 
was three thousand pounds. 

Jean Riesener was born in Glaud- 
beck, near Cologne and bore somewhat 
the same relation to Louis XV that 
Boulle did to Louis XIV and Vouet to 
Louis XIII. Among the cabinet-makers 

who served the capricious king, no LOUIS xv CHAIR, GARDE-MEUBLE 

one pleased his fancy more than this transplanted German. He was a pupil 
of Jean Pran9ois Oeben, and after the death of his master, succeeded to 
the title of ebenistc du Roi. Less is known of Oeben than of many 
others who filled positions of minor importance. 

The celebrated bureau du Roi was begun by Oeben and finished by Riesener. 
Few pieces of furniture have been the theme of so many discussions. Signed 
"Riesener 1769 a I'Arse'nal de Paris" it is only in late years that Oeben has been 
given a share in its glory. No article of handicraft belonging to the" Quinze" period 
has been the cause of so much conjecture. Column after column has been printed 
to prove this theory and that. Sometimes all the honors are given to Riesener; 
again he is stripped of his laurels and they are handed to Oeben; again they are 
divided among Riesener, Duplessis, and Hervieu. It is now believed that the 
conception of the design was due to Oeben, that Reisener completed the task, that 
Duplessis modeled the mounts, and that the casting was done by Hervieu. 

The "bureau" is in reality a secretary of unusual pattern. Viewed as an object 
of art it is a marvelous piece of work. The mounts are of bronze of a most elab- 
orate character. Reclining figures of great beauty, medallions, vases, wreaths, and 

115 




HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



garlands are the metal ornaments of this remarkable piece of furniture. Lavish 
as the description sounds there is a suggestion in the treatment of the whole design 
of the simplicity of the Louis XVI period. Could the vases and the figures be 
removed the bureau would show little trace of the style rocaille. Had the date 
been 1750 instead of 1769 it would doubtless have been treated in the true rococo 
spirit. The bureau du Roi is typical of the work of the time in the skill shown in 
the decoration of the back. 

No hidden corners were shirked by French craftsmen. The care bestowed 
upon the framework of furniture may be noted in the illustrations of the chairs 
from the Garde-Meuble. They have lost something in beauty by being robbed 
of their upholstery. As furniture studies they have gained in value. They show 
just what French furniture-makers borrowed from the Flemish and what they in 
turn gave to the English. They have the curving legs which superseded the ped- 
estal support of the Louis XIV period, and the rococo carving which supplanted 
the classic acanthus leaf. It is a mild rococo, however, and in the case of the 
straight-back chair, worthy of faithful reproduction. Similar in treatment is the 
sofa from the Petit Trianon which was designed for du Barry. It is of French 
walnut and the upholstery is deep old rose. These pieces represent the simple 
side of the style. 

"Rococo" is an elastic term and one that has been applied to every stage of 
rock and shell decoration from the time of Louis XIII to the declining days of 
Louis XV. With many people the word is wholly associated with modern con- 
ceptions. The Louis XV furniture of the shops is fearful to contemplate, and 
when brought into juxtaposition with the furnishings of the usual house, becomes 
what Marjorie Fleming termed the multiplication table, "Something that human 
nature cannot endure." Even genuine pieces of old French furniture cannot be 
placed with impunity side by side with the household gods of to-day. 

Styles of decoration and furniture are the outgrowth of conditions. The Louis 
XV style of furniture was the direct result of definite causes. When studied 
against the background of the eighteenth century it becomes one of the most fasci- 
nating in history. It may not appeal to one in the same way that the styles of 
the early Renaissance and Georgian periods do; it may not fit into every-day life 
as does the colonial; it will not bear reproducing except under the most exacting 
conditions; but that it has a distinct charm of its own cannot be gainsaid. It 
must be studied with the life and art of the period constantly in mind the pleasure- 
loving Louis spending a fortune on the whims of de Pompadour and her extrava- 
gant successor, du Barry; the great artists of the day, like Lancret and Boucher, 
turning from vast canvases to decorate a fan or a snuff-box; the great metal- 
workers, Caffieri and Gouthiere, bestowing the same care upon a sconce or candlestick 

116 



LOUIS XV FURNITURE 




LOUIS XV ARM-CHAIR, GARDE-MEUBLE 



that they gave to some momentous 
commission; the foremost tapestry- 
weavers devoting months to the up- 
holstery of a footstool. Trifles were 
matters of such consequence that they 
assumed the importance of serious 
undertakings. 

That furniture should receive the 
careful attention of great painters like 
Watteau, Lancret, and Boucher was the 
natural result of an age that placed so 
high a value on the perfection of detail. 
If the walls of a room were worthy of 
their regard the furnishings were no less 
so. Many of the most treasured pieces 
of the regency and of the Louis XV pe- 
riod bear decorations by Watteau and 
Boucher. Screens and cabinets were 
painted in the manner which they had 
made famous. Boucher's cupids and 
Watteau's shepherdesses have more 

than a passing interest. They seem the very essence of the art of the day. Wat- 
teau's untimely death occurred early in the reign of Louis XV, but a host of pu- 
pils perpetuated his methods. 

Painted furniture formed a distinct class. Equally unique were the pieces which 
were enriched with plaques and panels of porcelain. Madame de Pompadour 
was largely responsible for the introduction of this fragile furniture. She was at 
the height of her power when the beautiful soft paste porcelain of the Sevres manu- 
factory was perfected. In striving for novel decorations in the furnishing of her 
apartment her fancy turned to rare china. Marquetry, foreign lacquers, carvings, 
and paintings were for the moment discarded. Sevres porcelain was chosen to 
form the embellishment of cabinets, writing-desks, and the many other articles 
which found place in the elegant boudoir of the king's favorite. 

One class of furniture not yet mentioned was designated as Vernis-Martin. 
For more than a century cabinet-makers had sought to obtain a lustre which would 
give to their work the appearance of Chinese lacquer. During the reign of Francois 
I a few pieces of Chinese furniture were imported from Portugal. In the seven- 
teenth century, as trade between Holland and China increased, many articles of 
Chinese origin found their way to France where they were highly prized. So 

117 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



great was the demand for oriental lac that panels of Chinese woodwork were in- 
serted in French furniture. This was a combination, however, that could not 
long be tolerated. A Dutch cabinet-maker named Huygens is credited with being 
the first to discover a preparation which had the qualities of lacquer. The Martin 
family of Paris, after years of experimenting, perfected a composition which was 
called Vernis-Martin, or Martin's varnish. This invention placed them in an inde- 
pendent position. They were carriage-painters but with the success of their lacquer 

they became cabinet-makers. In the painting of car- 
riages they had a field for considerable skill, for vehicles 
of all kinds were elaborately ornamented in the time 
of Louis XV. Coaches and sedan chairs received as 
careful a scheme of decoration as the interior of houses. 
Frequently the scheme was the same. The craze for 
repeating the inevitable scrolls and shells extended to 
every possible object, without reference to its size, 
purpose, or construction. This was where the rococo 
school differed from all others under the sun. When 
my lady sat in her boudoir she was surrounded with 
dancing cupids and rose garlands, with gilded wreaths 
and painted scrolls. When she was carried through the 
streets of Paris in her sedan chair she was still be- 
wreathed and be-scrolled. Cupids danced, and pastoral 
maids simpered, and if they were not the cupids and 
pastoral maids of Boucher and Watteau they were such 
a clever copy that the effect was precisely the same. 

In the decorating of such sumptuous vehicles the 
Martins had served a long apprenticeship. It is not to 

LOUIS XV CLOCK 1 j, xv i- 

be wondered at that, in later years, they achieved 

renown not only for the beauty and durability of their lacquer, but for the skill 
with which they painted figures and landscapes. They were followed- by many 
imitators, and "Vernis-Martin" pieces, so called, became very common, but like all 
imitations they lacked the spirit of the originals. 

The small articles of furniture of Louis XV's time the clocks, chandeliers, 
candelabra, sconces, and mirrors were as skilfully constructed as the large pieces. 
The workmanship of these bronze and gilt objects was carried to a high state of 
perfection. In some of them there was beauty of line as well as matchless execution. 
It is interesting to compare a clock of this period, here illustrated, with the Louis 
XIV timepiece in the preceding chapter. The difference between "Quatorze" 
and "Quinze", as exemplified in small things, is clearly set forth. 

118 




LOUIS XV FURNITURE 



Both clocks belong to the bracket class ; both are of the same size and mechanical 
-construction; both are ornamented with marquetry and metal mounts. The 
Louis XV has more sweeping curves; the mounts, instead of closely outlining the 
woodwork, form an independent feature of the decoration; the acanthus leaf, as a 
motif, is abandoned and the curled endive takes its place. These articles are 
typical of the two styles. They are chosen from the middle periods. Late 
Louis XIV furniture resembled early Louis XV, and late Louis XV approached 
the Louis XVI. The rococo school, by its very extravagance, brought about a 
reaction that was destined to transform furniture-making. 



119 



CHAPTER XI 

LOUIS XVI FURNITURE 

CHARACTERISTICS OF THE STYLE: SIMPLICITY OF CONSTRUCTION 
AND SEVERITY OF ORNAMENT. ROCOCO DETAILS DISAPPEARED 
AND CLASSIC EMBLEMS REPLACED THEM. IMPORTANT FEATURES 
WERE THE FLUTED COLUMN, THE BAY LEAF, THE OAK AND ACORN, 
THE BELL FLOWER OR "CORN HUSK," THE GREEK BAND, AND THE 
PLAIN ACANTHUS. STRAIGHT LINES SUPERSEDED CURVES AND 
ORNAMENT WAS A MEANS NOT AN END. 



CHAPTER XI 

LOUIS XVI FURNITURE 

TO Marie Antoinette has long been accorded the honor of the pseudo-classic 
revival in France. Recent writers on French handicraft of the eighteenth 
century doubt the young queen's part in the matter, and point out the fact 
that the return to simpler forms took place several years before the Austrian 
princess married the dauphin. 

The Louis XVI style of decoration was of gradual growth. It is not possible 
to mark the date when the old standards gave place to the new. It is an extremely 
interesting development, for in its perfected form it differed as widely from the 
Louis XV style as did the early Renaissance from the Gothic. Whether the style 
owed its existence to the influence of Marie Antoinette, or to the discoveries of 
antique ornament at Pompeii and Herculaneum, or to the natural reaction from an 
extreme taste to a simpler one, are questions which are not of vital importance to-day. 
Doubtless many causes were instrumental in giving birth to the Louis XVI school. 
As the limit of extravagance had been reached any change was necessarily towards 
plainer models. A return to simplicity in decorative art meant a return to the 
antique. 

In the eighteenth-century Renaissance, Greece, not Rome was the inspiration. 
Straight lines replaced the flowing scrolls which had so long dominated interior deco- 
ration. Horizontal bands superseded the broken and tortured moldings. Irregular 
panels, painted witti cupids and rose garlands, gave way to rectangular spaces orna- 
mented with classic emblems. Furniture-makers discarded curves and adopted 
severe outlines. The endive and the twisted acanthus disappeared; the laurel and 
the oak leaf replaced them. To the Greek band was given the prominence pre- 
viously allotted to the shell. The fluted column was made a constructive part of 
nearly every piece of furniture. In the chair and the table the supports were 
fluted, tapering slightly at the base. In the cabinet the column had the character of 
a pilaster, sometimes tapering, sometimes resting on claw-feet. The oak leaf was 
seldom used in the decoration of the chair, but in the cabinet, armoire, console, and 
bureau, it w r as made a very ornamental feature. The laurel or the bay leaf was 
also effectively used and on rare occasions the acanthus, in a severe form, was 
revived. But to the oak leaf was given chief preference and it is interesting to 
study its development in small as well as large pieces of furniture. In the decoration 
of clocks, mirrors, and sconces it was an important and beautiful accessory. 

123 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



The cabinet from Fontainebleau is an excellent example of the Louis XVI style. 
The fluted columns have no ornamentation except crossed bands of ribbon. The 
oak leaf appears in both a natural and conventionalized manner. The metal work 
is simple and exceedingly good. The gold is of two shades, red-gold in the mold- 
ings and green-gold in the mounts. The claw-feet which are in the shape of eagle's 
talons are very spirited. An unusual effect is gained by the insertion of dark 
panels which add greatly to the beauty of the design. (See page 126.) 

The Louis XV furniture-maker would not have been content to leave the broad 
center panel undecorated. Marquetry and elaborate mounts would have been 
necessary adjuncts in his eyes. The charm of flat unadorned spaces was unknown 
to him. Fontainebleau contains many pieces of furniture designed expressly for 
Marie Antoinette, and this cabinet is of the number. 

Pierre Rousseau planned the apartments of the queen at Fontainebleau and 
designed the decorations. The boudoir is particularly fine and has been little 
altered since it was first executed. Everything pertaining to Marie Antoinette is of 
interest. From the historical point of view there are no apartments in Fontaine- 
bleau, Compiegne, Versailles, or the Petit Trianon so worthy of study as those occu- 
pied by the ill-fated queen. From the standpoint of interior decoration all the 
rooms furnished in the Louis XVI style have value. Of the three schools named in 
honor of the sovereigns Louis XIV, Louis XV, and Louis XVI, none is so worthy of 
reproduction as the style 'Louis Seize". It combines grace with simplicity, and, when 
correctly interpreted, is as suitable in an American home of the twentieth century 
as it was in a French palace of the eighteenth century. 

In the case of the three great French styles the palatial pieces form an important 
contribution to furniture lore, for with the exception of greater richness of material 
and more elaborate detail, the furniture of the court closely resembled that of the 
citizen's house. Thus the collections of Versailles, Fontainebleau, and the Garde- 
Meuble have more than a royal significance. The Louis XIV style suggests gran- 
deur, the Louis XV elegance, and the Louis XVI grace. Comfort is not lacking in 
many of the Louis XIV designs but comfort is not their most prominent feature. 
In the Louis XV pieces there is more luxury and less magnificence. The Louis XVI 
designs are constructed on severe lines but are perfectly proportioned, and combine 
both beauty and comfort. The furniture of this period seems made for use, not 
merely a medium for the display of intricate marquetry and elaborate metal work. 
Ornament for ornament's sake is absent although perfection of detail is never 
lacking. 

Many of the men who achieved fame under Louis XV rendered Louis XVI 
distinguished service. Riesener, Carlin, Duplessis, Leleu, Gouthiere left an im- 
press on both periods. Rousseau, Guibert, Saunier, Rontgen, Benemann, Thomire, 

124 




LOUIS XVI BEDSTEAD, FONTAINEBLEAU 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



and Oeben, the younger ,were more closely identified with the Louis XVI style. Much 

of Riesener's later work was executed for Marie Antoinette and is marked by the 

same exquisite finish that made his furniture famous during the reign of Louis XV. 

In the catalogue of the Hamilton collection which was sold at auction in 1882, 

are listed many of these royal designs. 
"No. 301. Upright Secretaire, signed 
'Riesener 1790.' Branded with the cipher 
of Marie Antoinette on the back, 4,620. 
No. 302. A commode en suite signed 
'Riesener 1790,' 4,305. No. 303. An 
oblong writing-table, stamped ' J. Riesen- 
er,' and branded underneath with the 
cipher of Marie Antoinette." 

In a footnote in the catalogue it is 
stated that "the commode and the secre- 
taire were among the last works of Rie- 
sener and that they were executed for 
the palace of St. Cloud, where the queen 
resided during the summer of 1790." 

David Rontgen, usually called "Da- 
vid" in French furniture annals, was a 
remarkable designer. He was a member 
of the Paris guild of cabinet-makers, but 
executed most of his furniture in his 
studio at Neuwied. Rontgen owed his 
reputation not only to the excellence of 
his work, but to his unique methods of 
conducting his sales. From his head- 
quarters in Neuwied he made journeys 
to the various courts of Europe. Among 
his royal patrons were Marie Antoinette, 
Frederick of Prussia, and Catherine of 
Russia. 

Combined with beauty of execution were many contrivances which rendered his- 
work remarkable. Secret drawers and hidden locks were made a feature of his 
desks and cabinets, and earned for him the title of ebeniste mecanicien. His mechan- 
ical ingenuity was often turned to account when important sales were pending. 

Lady Dilke describes one of his transactions with Catherine of Russia. Rontgen 
had arrived in St. Petersburg with a notable collection of furniture :"The empress- 

126 




LOUIS XVI CABINET, FONTAINEBLEAU 



LOUIS XVI FURNITURE 



was ready to admire and wonder, but could not be persuaded to buy, her funds just 
then being exhausted by the war with the Turks. In the night preceding the visit 
which she had promised to pay to Rontgen's exhibition, arrived the news of a naval 
victory won by the Russians at Tchesme, and when she was received on the follow- 
ing day at the place appointed, matters 
were so arranged that her eyes should fall 
at once on an imposing secretaire, which 
was surmounted by a clock bearing a 
Genius, whose graver indicated the date 
of the successful naval engagement, which 
Rontgen had contrived to add that 
morning. Catherine could do no less in 
acknowledgment of the courtly compli- 
ment than buy the whole collection." 

To such a point did Rontgen carry his 
mechanical skill and so closely associated 
with his name were all kinds of mechan- 
ical devices, that for years every writing- 
desk with a secret drawer, every cabinet 
with a hidden spring, has been attributed 
to him. Lady Dilke, who has made a 
careful study of the eighteenth-century 
furniture-makers, cites several pieces in 
the Kensington Museum which have 
been incorrectly credited to Rontgen. 
In speaking of a "bureau-toilette" in the 
Jones collection at Kensington, she says: 
"A curious feature of this bureau marks 
the treatment of the cover, which falls 
and presents to the hand a myriad little 
receptacles for paint and powder and 
other ' make-up ' requisites. This inge- LOUIS xvi CLOCK 

nious contrivance and the light color of 

the inlay have been responsible for the legend which declares it to have been 
ordered of David Rontgen by his patroness, Queen Marie Antoinette, a story that 
has not the slightest foundation. At one time the name of David seems to have 
been applied indiscriminately to all work inlaid with light woods, when the interior 
contrivances presented more or less ingenious character. This is the only expla- 
nation of the attribution of Rontgen, not only of the 'bureau-toilette/ but of the 

127 





noble cabinet at Hertford 
House, both undoubtedly by 
Saunier. " 

The "bureau-toilette" is 
illustrated here. It is in the 
late Louis XV style and is of 
tulip wood inlaid with flowers 
and trophies. The mounts 
are of ormolu, exquisitely 
chiseled. Within are numer- 
ous pigeon-holes for letters 
and many little receptacles 
for paint and powder, show- 
ing that her majesty prac- 
ticed the delicate art of 
make-up in common with 
the women of her day. 

Claude-Charles Saunier, 
Martin Carlin, Jean Pafrat, 
Jean Francois Leleu, are 
represented in many of the 
large English collections. 
From various catalogues the following items are gleaned: 

Hertford House " Mahogany cabinet with Sevres panels, designed by Carlin, 
mounts by Thomire. Table of amboyna wood, fluted columns, designed by Leleu, 
mounts attributed to Gouthiere. Table of wood and gilt metal porphyry slab, 
mounts by Gouthiere. Corner cupboard of mahogany, marquetry by Riesener, 
mounts by Thomire. Cabinet of amboyna wood and ormolu, by Riesener, mounts 
by Thomire. Chairs of carved and gilt wood, coverings of Beauvais tapestry. 
Corner cupboard, designed by Saunier." 

South Kensington Museum "Work- table, tulipwood and ormolu, by Carlin 
and Pafrat. Corner cupboard, marquetry, by Oeben. Commode, marquetry, by 
Riesener." 

Windsor Castle "Sideboard in mahogany and ormolu, with Sevres panels, by 
Martin Carlin. Mahogany cabinet with bronze mounts, bearing the arms of France 
and Savoy. Secretaire of tulipwood with bronze mounts, by Rontgen." 

These items, brief as they are, indicate the trend of the Louis XVI style, so far 
as the choice of woods and metals are concerned. They also show the importance 
given to the maker's name. French designers of the eighteenth century signed their 

128 



WRITING-DESK AND BUREAU-TOILETTE BELONGING TO 
MARIE ANTOINETTE, LATE XV STYLE 



LOUIS XVI FURNITURE 



work precisely as the painters signed their canvases, and who shall say that they 
were lesser artists? 

Mahogany had been growing in popularity since the middle of the century, and 
walnut which had so long been the chief medium of French furniture-makers, had 
gradually lost favor. Walnut was not discarded, but it was more often gilded and 
enameled than used in its natural state. For chairs and couches, and for all pieces 
where upholstery was utilized, walnut was the usual foundation. The enameling 
to which the wood was treated was in soft colors and exceedingly durable. Many 
of the Louis XVI chairs, sofas, and bedsteads show this delicate finish which to- 
day exhibits little trace of wear. The gilded furniture belongs to another class, 
although the designs are often similar. Many of the glided chairs are combined with 
cane. Sometimes the natural cane is set in a gilded frame, and again the cane is 
gilded and the wood enameled. Another style combines cane with natural walnut 
which is most attractive of all. Modern furniture-makers have lately revived this 
fashion. With a consistent setting these cane pieces are exceedingly effective. 

Marie Antoinette, in furnishing the Petit Trianon made a most effective use of 
cane. It suited the simplicity which she delighted to affect when she retired to the 
Trianon. The queen, brought up in the Austrian court which was less formal than 
that of France, spent her happiest hours in the picturesque building which Louis XV 
erected for the duchess du Barry. Here 
she could escape the etiquette of the 
court and live as independently as she 
pleased, even playing dairy-maid when 
the whim seized her. The English gar- 
den, the poultry-house, the mill, the 
grotto, and the djfiry are still in exist- 
ence, and are scarcely less interesting 
than the Little Trianon itself. 

Gabriel, the royal architect, built the 
main edifice which bears somewhat the 
same relation architecturally to the 
Grand Trianon that the Grand Trianon 
does to Versailles. "The Petit Trianon 
is rather a handsome country house than 
a palace," says a writer of the period. 
Its walls are ornamented with sculptural 
festoons of oak leaves, and the balustrade 
is of gilt bronze in designs of lyres and 
quivers, horns of plenty and the inter- 




LOUIS XVI CHAIR, PETIT TRIANON 



129 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



laced letters M. A. The antechamber has a Greek portal, and within is paneled 
in a severe but elegant style with a cornice of palmettes and painted rectangular 
panels over the doors. The dining-room opens immediately from it. The orna- 
ments on the panels, trophies of quivers and crowns, were placed there by the order 
of the queen. The main salon is furnished in crimson and gold. The boudoir is 
charming, with its simple but beautifully wrought moldings, its panels relieved by 
delicately modeled arabesques, and its simple mantel garniture of two Sevres 
vases and branches for candles in gilt bronze." 

The rooms described may be taken as typical of the Louis XVI period. They 
did not surpass the furnishings of many private houses. Paneled woodwork orna- 
mented with arabesques and trophies formed the usual decoration of side walls. 
The furniture of the main salon consisted of six straight-back chairs, two arm- 
chairs, a bergere, or chair with upholstered sides, two sofas, and several tables. 

In studying Louis XVI chairs two general types are observed: one is composed 
entirely of angles; the other makes a partial use of the oval. The arm-chair on 
page 129 is a fine illustration of the first class. The chair reproduced on this page 
belongs to the second. The fluted support is shown in both types and this feature, 
it may be added, is the most marked characteristic of Louis XVI furniture. 




LOUIS XVI CHAIR, PETIT TRIANON. 

130 



CHAPTER XII 

ENGLISH FURNITURE OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY 

CHARACTERISTICS OF THE STYLE: FIRST, QUEEN ANNE WHICH WAS 
A DEVELOPMENT OF THE DUTCH TYPES OF THE LATE SEVEN- 
TEENTH CENTURY. SECOND, CHIPPENDALE THE LEADING FEA- 
TURES BEING THE BALL-AND-CLAW FOOT, THE PIERCED SPLAT, 
AND THE CABRIOLE LEG. THIRD, ADAM, INAUGURATING A RE- 
VIVAL OF CLASSIC ORNAMENT. FOURTH, HEPPLEWHITE, IMPOR- 
TANT DETAILS OF WHICH WERE THE STRAIGHT TAPERING LEG, THE 
SHIELD-SHAPED CHAIR BACK, AND THE SPADE-FOOT. FIFTH, 
SHERATON, SALIENT CHARACTERISTICS BEING THE FLUTED LEG, 
THE RECTANGULAR CHAIR BACK, AND CLASSIC CARVING AND 
INLAY. 



CHAPTER XII 

ENGLISH FURNITURE OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY 

THE WORK OF THOMAS CHIPPENDALE 

AMONG English furniture-makers the name of Thomas Chippendale stands 
first. Other designers have surpassed him in certain lines, but to none has 
the same amount of fame been accorded. Chippendale was the first Eng- 
lishman to give title to a style. Celebrated designers had preceded him, but 
their identity is submerged in that of their sovereign. We hear little of a George 
I, a George II, or a George III period. Queen Anne's name is associated with the 
furniture types of the early eighteenth century. Victorian is the term given to 
the furniture development of the first half of the nineteenth century. Between 
these two reigns styles in furniture are known by the names of the men who 
created them. 

Chippendale was more a translator than a creator. He adapted Dutch, 
French, and Chinese designs infusing his own personality into everything he 
touched. His early work was largely tinctured by that of Grinling Gibbons, a 
contemporary and co^wofker of Sir Christopher Wren. Gibbons's influence on 
interior work was almost as potent as was that of Wren on the architecture of the 
day. Chippendale owed much to this man whose fame has been overshadowed 
by some of his followers. 

All furniture-makers of the first half of the eighteenth century were indebted to 
the Dutch. Chippendale used the cabriole or bandy-leg freely, also the ball-and- 
claw foot, and the fiddle-back. Other designers did the same, but Chippendale 
combined them with greater success. It is hardly to be wondered at that these 
characteristics are termed "Chippendale," for it was he who gave them lasting fame. 
How the world would rate Chippendale and his contemporaries if oak and walnut 
had been their only medium is impossible to say. What English furniture of the 
eighteenth century would have been if mahogany had been unknown is difficult to 
conjecture. The firmness of the wood, coupled with the fine quality of the grain, 
enabled furniture-makers to secure results which were unattainable in oak. It is 
not too much to say that the great English cabinet-makers of the eighteenth century 
could not have achieved their triumphs without the aid of this beautiful medium. 
By its use designers obtained both strength and delicacy, characteristics which 
were united for the first time. The introduction of this wood has long been credited 
to one Dr. Gibbon, an English physician and the date is placed at 1724. The 

133 



tradition is that the doctor re- 
ceived from his brother, a sea- 
captain in the West Indies, a few 
pieces of mahogany, and being 
pleased with the color, ordered a 
cabinet-maker to utilize the bits 
in constructing a candle-box for 
Mrs. Gibbon. Delighted with the 
result he sent instructions to the 
sea-captain to ship him enough 
mahogany to make a bureau. By 
chance the duchess of Buckingham 
saw the bureau and was imme- 
diately charmed with it. Her 
approval brought the wood into 
general notice, and mahogany 
furniture soon became the fashion. 
Mahogany was known in 
France and Spain at an earlier 
date than this, and it is quite 
probable that English cabinet- 
makers were familiar with it 



ENGLISH FURNITURE OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY 




CHIPPENDALE S DUTCH TYPE, I 

A Collection of Most Elegant and 
Useful Designs of Household Fur- 
niture. Calculated to Improve and 
Refine the Present Taste, and 
Suited to Persons in All Degrees 
of Life. Many of the designs in 
the book were extremely rococo 
and showed how close a student 
the author was of the Louis XV 
school; some were executed in 
"the Gothic manner," others in 
the " Chinese taste." A list of the 
" Most Elegant and Useful Designs 
of Household Furniture, in the 
Most Fashionable Taste," included: 



before Dr. Gibbon and his candle-box 
became famous. 

Chippendale worked in many veins, 
adapting his craft to the taste and purse 
of his patrons. His book, The Gentle- 
man and Cabinet-Maker's Director, shows 
a variety of designs executed in the French, 
Chinese, and Gothic styles. The third 
edition appeared in 1762, and by that 
time Chippendale's fame was firmly estab- 
lished. The sub-title stated that it was 




CHIPPENDALE CHAIR, II 



135 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



Chairs, sofas, beds, and couches; china-tables, dressing-tables, shaving-tables, bason-stands, 
and teakettle-stands ; frames for marble-slabs, bureau-dressing-tables, and commodes; writing- 
tables, and library-tables ; library bookcases, organ-cases for private rooms, or churches, desks 
and book-cases ; dressing and writing-tables with book-cases, cabinets, and cloaths-presses ; 
china-cases, china-shelves, and book-shelves; candle-stands, terms for busts, stands for china 
jars and pedestals; cisterns for water, lanthorns, and chandeliers; fire-screens, brackets, and 
clock cases; pier-glasses and table-frames; girandoles, chimney-pieces, and picture-frames; 
stove-grates, boarders, frets, Chinese-railing, and brass-work, for furniture, 
from which it may be seen that the designer of St. Martin's Lane could design, 
stove-grates and lanterns as well as organ-cases. 

Sideboards are not mentioned in the Director and it is doubtful if Chippen- 
dale made these pieces. Many articles long attributed to Chippendale are now 

credited to Hepplewhite and 
Shearer. It is conceded by 
students of furniture that 
Chippendale did not inlay any 
of his handiwork. The many 
beautiful cabinets and side- 
boards, standing on straight, 
tapering legs, and having for 
their sole decoration narrow 
lines of inlay which have long 
been called "Chippendale," 
are, in reality, after the man- 
ner of Hepplewhite. The ser- 
pentine sideboards are be- 
lieved to have been designed 
by Thomas Shearer who was 
associated with Hepplewhite. 
Carving was Chippendale's 
mode of decoration and in his 
beautiful chairs it found its 
best expression. Five distinct 
types are illustrated here and 
show the versatility of this 
renowned chair-maker. The 
first is the sturdy Dutch type 
to which Chippendale gave 
such vitality. The cabriole 
leg, the club foot, the heavy 




CHIPPENDALE ARM-CHAIR, III 



136 



ENGLISH FURNITURE OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY 



underbracing, are of Dutch origin. The 
pierced splat is Chippendale translation 
of the fiddle-back. In the second illus- 
tration the braces have been altered, 
and the curved Dutch leg gives place 
to the square, straight leg. The arm- 
chair is its companion and shows the 
designer at high-water mark. Here is 
grace coupled with comfort, and a 
restraint which is often lacking in his 
later chairs. That Chippendale himself 
thought lightly of this design and pre- 
ferred his French, Chinese, and Gothic 
chairs, is well known. Of his fantastic 
"ribbon-backs," he once said, "If I 
may speak without vanity, they are 
the best that I have seen, and perhaps 
the best that have been made." And 
again, "There may be better chairs, 
but I doubt it." 

In America these elaborate pieces 
are seldom seen, and perhaps it is for 
this reason that "Chippendale" to us 
always stands for the beautiful. Many 
of the rococo designs were made for 
wealthy patrons and were never du- 
plicated. Others were made for roy- 
alty and the drawings immediately 
destroyed. The best work of the man was undoubtedly done when there was a restric- 
tion in regard to the cost. Then, as now, too much money was a detriment. When 
a fabulous sum was asked for a single piece of furniture the money had to show 
somewhere, and that was on the surface. If Thomas Chippendale could have fore- 
seen that these designs would one day be held up to ridicule, while on the other 
hand some of his simple patterns would sell for fabulous sums, he would have 
doubted the sanity of posterity. 

Among his "simple" pieces may be reckoned the ladder-back chair which is repro- 
duced in the fourth illustration. This embodies the fine proportions which have justly 
given him the title of prince of chair-makers. The "roundabout" illustrates another 
phase of his work, while his French manner is depicted in illustration VI. 

137 




LADDER-BACK CHAIR, IV 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 




Card-tables, sofas, settees, desks, 
bureaus, and bookcases came from 
Chippendale's shop in quantities. His 
sofas and settees follow the same lines 
as his chairs; his card- tables usually 
have the ball-and-claw foot, with 
intricate carving; the bureaus and 
commodes are less typical and com- 
bine features which partake of many 
styles. In the English definition of 
the word "bureau," a chest of drawers 
was not implied. The term was used 
to describe secretaries and commodes. 
Few of Chippendale's "bureaus" are 
found in America. In the Warner 
House in Portsmouth is a beautiful 
bookcase which is attributed to Chip- 
pendale, and a comparison with au- 
thenticated pieces in England lends 
probability to the theory. The case 
fills one side of the room and contains 
a drop lid which may be used for writing purposes. 

While to Chippendale belongs the glory of raising his work above his contem- 
poraries of the middle portion of the century, the work of other men must not be 
forgotten. Grinling Gibbons has been mentioned; James Gibbs, Isaac Ware, and 
William Kent followed him. Coming a little later were Abraham Swan, Batty 
and Thomas Langley, Edwards and Darley, Thomas Johnson, Ince, and Robert 
Manwaring. These men were notable in special lines. Batty and Thomas Langley 
were famous for their pier- tables and consoles; Edwards and Darley were expo- 
nents of the Chinese taste; Thomas Johnson was the high priest of the extreme 
rococo; Manwaring and Richardson were contemporaneous with the Adam broth- 
ers, and were identified with the work of their day. 

One name should be given special prominence and that is Richard Gillow wjiose 
work was of unusual merit, and to whom may possibly belong the honor of origi- 
nating the shield-shape chair. Richard Gillow was son of Robert Gillow who 
achieved fame earlier in the century. If Gillow had written a book he might have 
been a rival of both Chippendale and Hepplewhite. His work on paper was con- 
fined to his working drawings which show ability of a high order. Many of his 
finest pieces were executed for the Adam brothers whose commissions were greatly 

138 



CHIPPENDALE ROUNDABOUT, V 



ENGLISH FURNITURE OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY 




CHIPPENDALE S 
FREXCH MANNER, VI 



prized by cabinet-makers. The work of this de- 
signer was signed, a custom which, we regret, was 
not universal among English cabinet-makers. 

The shield or heart-shaped chair is associated 
with Hepplewhite, yet Chippendale, Gillow, Shearer, 
Sheraton, all used it. It was Hepplewhite who gave 
it special prominence and it is Hepplewhite's name 
which is now associated with it. Doubtless these 
designers borrowed largely from each other, adapting 
various characteristics to suit the commission in hand. 

The fame of these great furniture-makers rests on 
their representative work, not on their creations en 
masse. Nor is it so much a question of the invention 
of a style, as whose individuality was strong enough 
to perpetuate it. On this score we ascribe to 
Chippendale the pierced back and the ball-and-claw 
foot; to Hepplewhite the shield-back and the 
straight, tapering foot; and to Sheraton the rectan- 
gular back and the fluted leg. That these men could be "myriad minded" in their 
designing we know from their books, but we judge them by their typical furniture 
and rate them accordingly. 

THE WORK OF GEORGE HEPPLEWHITE 

Less is known of Hepplewhite than of either of his great contemporaries. His 
death occurred in 1786; the date of his birth is a matter of conjecture. For many 
years a mystery has surrounded the names "G. Hepplewhite" and "A. Hepple- 
white" which has of late been solved. Research has revealed the fact that the 
business of George Hepplewhite, after his death, passed into the hands of his widow 
Alice, who continued the work of the firm over the signature of "A. Hepplewhite 
and Company." Thus the long controversy as to the relationship of the two is 
satisfactorily settled. The theory that "G." and " A. " Hepplewhite were brothers 
is set at rest. 

That this designer personally made, or even supervised, half of the furniture 
bearing his name, is out of the question. Craftsmen trained in his methods per- 
petuated the work. Hepplewhite's book, The Cabinet-maker and Upholsters Guide, 
appeared the year following his demise and was completed by other hands. It is 
believed that Thomas Shearer, who was associated with him, made many of the draw- 
ings contained in the work. Shearer's identity seems to have been lost in that of 
Hepplewhite. An English critic, in writing of him, says : " Whether Shearer in- 

139 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



fluenced Hepplewhite or Hepplewhite Shearer is a question to which we are not 
likely to find a definite answer; yet as a considerable portion of Sheraton's style 
was founded on Shearer's lines, the presumption is that if a man of such very 
decided personality was affected, Hepplewhite was no less indebted to this great but 
practically forgotten designer." And again: 

"In bookcases Shearer is very strong. His eye for proportion is indisputable, 
and it is only his occasionally uncertain use of inlay and ornament which would 
prevent us placing him first in this particular department. Even as these stand 
they are better than Hepplewhite's, and there can be little doubt of their influence 
on Sheraton." 

Shearer is believed to have originated the serpentine sideboard and Hepplewhite 

to have brought it to perfection. A 
fine specimen illustrated on page 143 
has all the characteristics of this 
designer. The serpentine curve, the 
straight, tapering legs, the spade-feet, 
and the peculiar inlay, all show this 
master hand. Hepplewhite used 
inlay most effectively. The legs of 
his tables and sideboards are some- 
times ornamented with delicate ver- 
tical patterns in sycamore and tulip- 
wood. The meander pattern was a 
favorite with him and so was the 
Greek fret. In this work the influ- 
ence of the Adam brothers is 
plainly discernible. The urn-shaped 
finials used by Shearer and Sheraton, 
and in a slighter degree by Hepple- 
white, are in the "Adam style." 
Knife-boxes in this form were made 
by all three of the designers, and 
are among the most attractive of 
small pieces of furniture. Dressing- 
tables with heart-shaped mirrors, 
cabinets with long, tapering legs, and 
tables of many forms, are among 
Hepplewhite's designs. His shield- 
shaped chairs have doubtless brought 




SHIELD-SHAPED CHAIR, HEPPLEWHITE 



140 



ENGLISH FURNITURE OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY 




HEPPLEWHITE TABLE 



him greatest renown. An unusually 
fine example of this style is repro- 
duced here. It is more elaborate 
than much of his work, yet full of re- 
finement and dignity. Robert Adam 
never handled the urn with greater 
skill. The details are remarkably 
fine, and place Hepple white above 
the reproach that his chairs were 
usually faulty in construction. 

A rare design is the oval-back 
chair containing the Prince of Wales 
plumes, shown on page 144. The 
spade-foot, which is one of the dis- 
tinctive features of this designer's 
work, is illustrated in both chairs. 
Pieces of furniture in the Hepple- 
white style are numerous in this 
country, and are among the most 
interesting of colonial possessions. 
R. S. Clouston, writing of English cabinet-makers, says: 

"Personally, I am unable to rank Hepplewhite with Chippendale on the one side 
or Sheraton on the other, either in construction or design, yet there is an undefinable 
charm about his \sork, even when faulty by rule, which, like some old song, touches 
a. higher and more human note than can be attained by mere correctness." 

THE WORK OF JAMES AND ROBERT ADAM 

To many people the name Adam is vaguely associated with a severe type of 
interior woodwork, variously called colonial, Georgian, and Louis XVI. To others 
the term signifies a few ornamental details found in old furniture, such as the fluted 
column, the festoon, the garland, and the band of ribbon. The real work of Robert 
Adam and that of his brother James is seldom considered. To them was largely 
due the reaction that took place in English handicraft about the middle of the 
eighteenth century. The Adams were architects but their influence did not end 
with the architecture of the period. It extended over all the arts and found an 
echo in this country. The real worth of these gifted men cannot be measured 
by the buildings they erected, although these have stood the test of time, nor can 
it be reckoned by the interiors they designed, successful as their work in this field 
will always be considered. It must be estimated by the impetus they gave the arts 
as a whole an impetus towards simplicity. 

141 




DINING-ROOM, RESIDENCE OF FREDERIC C. BARTLETT, CHICAGO, HEPPLEWHITE FURNITURE 



ENGLISH FURNITURE OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY 

The brothers did not create the style which bears their name. They adapted to 
English conditions a style old as ornament itself, and which in France had already 
gained a footing, later to blossom as the Louis XVI school. Robert Adam, on 
his return from Italy, whither he had gone with the French architect Clerisseau, 
found England ripe for a second reformation. The work of the great French design- 
ers of Louis XV's reign was being copied in England, but without the delicacy of 




HEPPLEWHITE SIDEBOARD 

touch which made the eccentricities of such men as Meissonier almost excusable. 
One glance at the early drawings of Chippendale, Johnson, and Ince show with 
what a heavy hand the English designer wielded rococo ornament. When Sir Wil- 
liam Chambers introduced the Chinese style of decoration, and a few so-called 
"oriental" details were grafted upon the rococo hodgepodge, the time was at hand 
for an artistic upheaval. At this point Robert Adam, fresh from the study of 
antique ornament in Italy and Spalatio, arrived in England. The year was 1754 a 
memorable one in English annals. From this moment the reformation began, 
insignificant at first, but gathering force as its influence widened. 

In 1764 Adam published a folio of drawings, engraved by Bartolozzi, showing the 
ruins of the Emperor Diocletian's palace at Spalatio. In an introduction to the 

143 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



work he stated that his "object in selecting this ruin for special examination was its 
residential character, as the knowledge of classical architecture in England is con- 
fined to public buildings." In 1778 the brothers, James and Robert, began the 
publication of their Works in Architecture, a series of folios containing their most 
important designs. These books were of great value and were used by architects 
and decorators on both sides of the Atlantic. 

Few of the interiors designed by the brothers are now in existence. Number 25 
Portland Square, the house built by Robert for himself, has been little altered, and 
one or two other dwellings have shared a like kindly fate. But the beautiful rooms 
of Sion House, of Kenwood, and of the Earl of Derby's mansion in Grosvenor Square, 
exist only in the fine old engravings which are a lasting legacy of the Adam brothers. 

The drawings of the library in Sion 
House, the seat of the earl of North- 
umberland, of the "great room" at 
Kenwood, the residence of Lord Mans- 
field, and of the "withdra wing-rooms" 
in the earl of Derby's house, show what 
masters of detail these princely de- 
signers were. 

The characteristics of the Adam 
style were, to quote from an old 
writer, "simplicity, elegant slender- 
ness, and low relief." "In their fine 
sense of proportion," says another 
critic, "in their chaste taste in the 
selection and disposition of niches, 
lunettes, festoons, and other classical 
ornament, the brothers Adam have 
never been excelled." 

They made use of the urn, the 
laurel leaf, the arabesque, the oval 
patera, the acanthus, the ribbon 
band, and the garland. Many of these 
details appear in the Louis XVI 
decorations. The difference between 
the Louis XVI style and the Adam 
style lies in the application of the 
ornament rather than in the ornament 
itself. 




PRINCE OF WALES CHAIR, HEPPLEWHITE 



144 



ENGLISH FURNITURE OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY 




The brothers carried their 
classic tastes to a very fine 
point, bestowing on the furni- 
ture and metal appointments 
of the rooms they designed as 
much thought as they gave 
to the ceilings, doors, and 
mantels. Some of their most 
charming work is seen in their 
locks and escutcheons for fur- 
niture, vases for candles, 
stands and brackets for lamps, 
and frames for mirrors. In- 
teresting examples of their 
designing in this line may be 
noted in the illustrations of 
the vase and bracket for can- 
dles made for the countess of 
Derby, and in the lock for a HEPPLEWHITE TABLE 

cabinet door made for the duke of Northumberland. 

The Adams regarded the Grosvenor Square house as their masterpiece, and one 
of their folios is largely devoted to the rooms and furniture of this mansion. The 
great drawing-room, where the countess of Derby entertained so lavishly, was pro- 
nounced by Robert to be one of the "most elegant in Europe." The chimney-piece 
of this apartment shows what delicacy and force these artists could impart to large 
surfaces. All the decorations and appointments of the smaller rooms were planned 
with the same regard for detail. The private suite of the countess was conceded to 
be the finest of its kind in London. The furniture was designed by James and 
executed under his direction. 

The influence of the Adam brothers on the furniture-makers of their time was 
very marked. The later work of Hepplewhite, and more especially that of Sheraton, 
was largely shaped by them. The latter acknowledged his indebtedness in a 
graceful tribute dedicated to Robert. Sheraton did not imitate he was too 
great for that but he embodied in his furniture a feeling for simplicity which 
he himself was generous enough to attribute to the brothers. In this country 
the Adam type of furniture is best known by the work of Sheraton. The fine 
sideboards with urn-shaped knife-boxes made by him are splendid examples of the 
Adam style. 

When Robert Adam returned from Italy, Pergolesi and Bartolozzi accompanied 

145 



ADAM COMMODE DESIGNED FOR COUNTESS OF DERBY 
PAINTED BY PERGOLESI 




him. Pergolesi executed many of the decorations designed by the brothers, and in 
this work he was assisted by Cipriani, another Italian, and by that gifted woman, 
Angelica Kauffman. Furniture was designed in harmony with the walls and painted 
in gold and enamels. 

Strong as the influence of the Adam brothers was in England it was scarcely less 
in this country. America owes these men an everlasting debt of gratitude, for to 
them is largely due our finest architecture. Many of the houses erected in New 
England and the South from 1780 to 1810 were built on lines laid down by Robert 
and James Adam. The beautiful rooms of these old mansions are as truly Adam 
as the interiors of Kenwood, Sion House, and Portland Place. To the American 
mind the colonial woodwork is the finer, being simpler, and marked by greater 
restraint. 

Robert Adam shared honors with James and to-day their names are seldom 
separated. Robert was undoubtedly the master of the two, possessing the creative 
faculty to a rare degree. Aside from his work the story of his life reads briefly. 
In The Gentleman's Magazine for March, 1792, is a short but significant biography. 

England lost two of her greatest men within one month, and both are honored 
in this quaint pamphlet. Under the heading, "Obituary of Considerable Persons," 

146 



ENGLISH FURNITURE OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY 



the death of Rob 
Joshua Reynolds is 
notes are rather 
these brief articles 
is interesting. With 
many capitals and 
sketch is faithfully 

"At his house in 
Robert Adam, Esq., 
the Royal Antiqua- 
don and Edinburgh, 
buildings, public 
in various parts of 
Adam will remain 
of his taste and 
natural suavity of 
to the excellence of 
have endeared him to a 
will long lament his death. 
Kirkaldy, in the county of Fife, 
to Dr. Adam Smith, author of 
was the second son of William 
an architect of 
his education at the 
burgh. The friend- 
were with men who 
nently distinguished themselves 
them being Mr. David Hume, Dr. 
Adam Fergusson, and Mr. John 
of life he had the good fortune to 
of Archibald, duke of Argyle, the 
earl of Mansfield, and several 
of the age. 

"Mr. Adam, after his return 
tect to his Majesty in the year 



BRACKET AND VASE FOR CANDLES 

DESIGNED FOR THE COUNTESS 

OF DERBY 




ert Adam and Sir 
recorded. Obituary 
solemn reading, but 
contain much that 
the exception of the 
the long s, the first 
reproduced. 
Albermarle Street, 
architect, Fellow of 
rian Society of Lon- 
The many elegant 
and private, erected 
the kingdom by Mr. 
lasting monuments 
genius. And the 
his manners joined 
his moral character 
numerous circle of friends, who 
Mr. Adam was born in 1728, at 
the same place that gave birth 
the Wealth of Nations. He 
Adam, Esq., of Marybury, 
merit. He received 
University of Edin- 
ships he formed 
have since emi- 
by their literary products, among 
Robertson, Dr. Adam Smith, Dr. 
Home. At a more advanced time 
enjoy the friendship and society 
late Mr. Charles Townsend, the 
others of the most illustrious men 



from Italy, was appointed archi- 
1762, which office, being incom- 
patible with a seat in Parliament, he resigned in 1768, on his being elected to 
represent the county of Kinross. It is somewhat remarkable that the arts should 
be deprived at the same time of two of their greatest ornaments, Sir Joshua Rey- 
nolds and Mr. Adam, and it is difficult to say which of them excelled more in his 

147 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



LOCK FOR A CABINET DOOR -SMiGf DESIGNED FOR THE DUKE OF 

NORTHUMBERLAND 




particular profession. Sir Joshua yljaMjiKJK' introduced a new and superior 
style of portrait-painting. It is ^H'HKy equally true that Mr. Adam pro- 
duced a total change in the archi- ^^^^ tecture of this country, and his 
fertile genius in elegant ornament was not confined to the decoration of buildings, but 
has been diffused into almost every branch of manufacture. His talents extended be- 
yond the line of his profession. The loss of Mr. Adam at this time must be peculiarly 
felt, as the new University of Edinburgh and other great public works, both in that city 
and in Glasgow, were erecting from his designs and under his direction. To the last 
period of his life Mr. Adam displayed an unusual vigor of genius and refinement of 
taste ; for in the space of one year preceding his death he designed eight great public 
works and twenty-five private buildings, so various in their style and so beautiful in 
their composition that they have been allowed by the best judges sufficient of them- 
selves to establish his fame unrivaled as an artist." 

It is impossible to show the charm of the Adam style with a few illustrations. 
No adequate conception of the talents of the brothers can be gained from isolated 
examples of their work. The mantels and doors designed by them lose half their 
beauty when removed from the original setting. Thus the reproduction of the door 
to the Etruscan room in the Grosvenor Square house, and that of the chimney-piece 
in the same mansion, give little hint of the Adam genius. Viewed with their sur- 
roundings they become successful details of a very harmonious whole. The Adam 
decorations, more than that of any other style, with the possible exception of the 
Louis XV, lose by being separated from the construction. The watchword of the 
brothers was "harmony," and this quality in their work can be appreciated only 
when a room or series of rooms is studied. There are reprints of the interiors of 



ENGLISH FURNITURE OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY 



Sion House, Kenwood, Queen's House, and the mansions in Portland Place and 
Grosvenor Square, and these are as useful from the student's standpoint as the now 
priceless first editions. These books are worth volumes of descriptions. 

Many learned writers have discoursed extensively on the work of James and 
Robert Adam, but few have so intelligently expressed the point of the matter as 
did Robert himself in the preface of his first book : 

"If we have any claim to approbation we found it on this alone: that we have 
been able to seize, with some degree of success, the beautiful spirit of antiquity, and 
to transfuse it with novelty and variety through all our numerous works." 

THE WORK OP THOMAS SHERATON. 

Thomas Sheraton, last of the great English furniture-makers, was born in 1751, 
three years before Thomas Chippendale published The Gentleman and Cabinet-Ma- 
ker 1 s Director. "Last and least" cannot be said of Sheraton. "Last and 
greatest" expresses the opinion of many latter-day critics. A recent writer on the 
inexhaustible subject of eighteenth-century furniture, says of him: "Much as one 
may appreciate the workmanship of Chippendale and Hepplewhite, in the presence 
of a true piece of Sheraton's work one cannot help feeling that their productions are 
coarse, almost blatant that they were workmen, while Sheraton was a poet, and a 
poet blessed with color." This is strong praise, but it comes from the pen of an 
Englishman who has studied his subject deeply. No American could truthfully call 
Chippendale "blatant," unless he used the word in turning over the pages of the 
Director. Chippendale's fame rests on his furniture, not his drawings, and so it 
is with Sheraton. The great cabi- 
net-makers who ^ wrote Directors, 
Guides, and Drawing-Books, put 
their extravagant ideas on paper 
and their simple ones into furniture. 
With their elaborate sketches they 
hoped to catch the fancy of royalty; 
with their actual pieces of furniture 
they looked for e very-day patronage. 
And so it is that the shelves of ref- 
erence libraries are full of " measure- 
ments" and "scales" and lengthy 
"instructions" which grow gray with 
dust, while the supply of the real 
furniture is far too little to supply 
one half the demand. To decide which 




ADAM MANTELPIECE DECORATED BY ANGELICA 
KAUFFMAN 



149 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



is the greatest, Chippendale, Hepplewhite, or Sheraton, is an impossibility. There 
is one glory of the sun, and another of the moon, and another of the stars. 

Chippendale was the most versatile of the three. He could be French, 
Chinese, or Gothic, as the occasion demanded. His imagination, as he himself 
admitted, was "without an equal." It was this imaginative quality that some- 
times led the St. Martin's Lane furniture-maker into the realms of the fantastic 
and consequently away from the paths of simplicity. Sheraton's creations have 
this beautiful quality combined with perfect proportion and rare restraint. Whether 
it be chair, table, or sideboard, there is a completeness about the design that leaves 
little to be desired. Ornament for ornament's sake was never countenanced by 
Sheraton. Like the Adam brothers, he decorated construction; he did not con- 





SHEEATON CHAIRS 

150 



ENGLISH FURNITURE OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY 




A FIXE EXAMPLE OF SHERATON'S WORK 



struct decora- 
tion. 

Coming af- 
t e r Chippen- 
dale and Hep- 
plewhite, this 
designer learn- 
e d much 
from their, 
methods. Dis- 
carding the 
plain, taper- 
ing support, 
he selected the 
fluted form of 

the Louis XVI style which the Adams had introduced into England. He made 
use of the fluted column in his sideboards, tables, and desks, treating it with rare 
restraint. In his chairs he used the square support, believing that a rectangular 
back demanded a rectangular base. On the same theory his use of the round and 
fluted leg is equally consistent, for it is always combined with a curve. The table, 
sofa, and chest of drawers reproduced in this chapter show the combination of the 
fluted support and the curved surface. The table is an extremely graceful design 
and makes an interesting comparison with the Hepplewhite table illustrated on 
page 141. These designs are of the "drop leaf" type, the leaf of the table fol- 
lowing the outlines of the supports. The square, tapering leg of the Hepple- 
white table is in perfect harmony with the top, which, though curved, is completed 
by square corners. Sheraton's design meets the same test, the rounded corners 
outlining the curved supports. 

The chest of drawers, or bureau in our modern acceptance of the word, is an 
excellent example of Sheraton's principle of construction. Here again we see the 
curved front in conjunction with the rounded support. The fluted column begins 
at the top of the second drawer and ends at the base of the lower drawer. Above 
the fluting is the "corn and husk" motif executed in a conventionalized manner; 
below is a turned leg of admirable proportions. The drawers have narrow moldings 
and brass handles of a simple pattern. Narrow beading outlines each plate which 
is further decorated by a small rosette. 

The sofa Is a typical example of Sheraton's work, having the fluted support and 
delicate carvings in low relief. The back of the sofa shows the festoon pattern used 
.so freely by the Adam brothers in their interiors. 

151 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



Sheraton's chairs are easily distin- 
guished frqni those of Chippendale 
and Hepplewhite. He seldom used 
the shield-back of the latter and 
never the pierced splat of the former. 
His treatment of the shield or heart- 
shaped back was unlike that of Hep- 
plewhite. The top of the shield was 
straighter and the carving much more 
severe. In America this type of chair 
is seldom .seen. Sheraton's fame as a 
chair-maker on this side of the water 
rests almost entirely on the rectangu- 
lar back, an excellent example of 
which is illustrated on page 150. 

Sheraton furniture may be divided 
into three classes carved, inlaid, and 
painted. To the first division belong 
the pieces illustrated here, together 
with the beautiful sideboards, which 
are perhaps most characteristic of all 

Sheraton's designs. His desks, bookcases, and writing-tables belong also to this class, 
but are less familiar in America than in England. In the second list may be grouped 
the graceful drop-leaf tables, orna- 
mented with narrow lines of inlay, 
the pretty tea-trays, knife-cases, and 
writing-boxes, the latter often show- 
ing an insert of sycamore and tulip- 
wood. The third division includes 
the furniture designed by Sheraton 
and decorated by Angelica Kauff- 
man, Pergolesi, and Cipriani. Many 
of these pieces were executed for the 
Adam brothers and were of exquis- 
ite workmanship. Satin wood form- 
ed the basis of the larger portion of 
this work, and when decorated sug- 
gested Italian "gesso." The Ken- 
sington Museum contains splendid 





ENGLISH FURNITURE OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY 



specimens of this fur- 
niture, and occasional 
pieces are found in pri- 
vate collections. 

Like Hepplewhite and 
Chippendale, Sheraton 
worked largely in ma- 
hogany, but he did not 
confine himself to this 
wood. Sycamore, hare- 
wood, tulipwood, and 
kingwood he used liber- 
ally in his smaller piec- 
es of furniture. He 
wielded the highly color- 
ed woods as a painter 
does his pigments, and 
it is on this score that 
he is justly called a "col- 
or-poet." Hare wood , 
which was sycamore 
dyed a pale shade of 
brown, white wood, stain- 
ed apple-green, satin- 
wood in its lovely^ nat- 
ural tone, and kingwood, 
of deeper coloring, were used by this man with marvelous skill. Other cabinet- 
makers combined these woods but, never on English soil, with such consummate 
art. 

Sheraton was a many-sided genius and met the fate of the man who does many 
things well. He lived and died poor. Adam Black to whom the world is indebted 
for most of its knowledge of Sheraton's private life has written graphically of the 
cabinet-maker hi his "Memoirs." Black was born in 1783 and died in 1872. At 
one time he was Lord Provost of Edinburg. In his early career he was employed 
by Sheraton, at a time when the great furniture-maker was devoting himself to 
many pursuits. Black writes: "He lived in a poor street in London, his house 
half shop, half dwelling, and looked himself like a Methodist preacher. He had 
been a cabinet-maker, and was now author, publisher, and teacher of drawing, and, 
I believe, occasionally, preacher." Again, he says: "This many-sided individual 

153 




SHERATON SIDE-BOARD AND CHIPPENDALE MIRROR 



ENGLISH FURNITURE OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY 

is an interesting character. He is a man of talent. He is a scholar, writes well, 
and, in my opinion, draws masterly. We may be ready to ask how comes it to pass 
that a man with such abilities and resources is in such a state? I believe his abilities 
and resources are his ruin in this respect, for by attempting to do everything he does 
nothing." 

"Would that most people's 'nothing' might prove to be as much," says B. 
Wyllie, Esq., the Englishman already quoted. "I find myself wondering," he adds, 
"if his paintings and his writings would have given as much pleasure to the world 
as his furniture has undoubtedly given, supposing he had been able to devote him- 
self to those arts." 



15* 



CHAPTEE XIII 

FURNITURE OF THE FRENCH EMPIRE 

CHARACTERISTICS OP THE STYLE: THE TORCH, THE WREATH, THE 
SPHINX, THE ATHENIAN BEES, AND THE GREEK HONEYSUCKLE. 
CARVING AND MARQUETRY WERE DISCARDED AND PLAIN SURFACES 
WERE COVERED WITH CHISELED MOUNTS OF BRASS AND ORMOLU. 
SIMPLE EMPIRE TYPES WERE FULL OF BEAUTY BUT THE FINAL DE- 
VELOPMENT WAS CLUMSY AND GROTESQUE. 



CHAPTER XIII 

FURNITURE OF THE FRENCH EMPIRE 

THE Empire style marked the last of the great historic epochs in furniture 
and decoration. It was cold and formal, reflecting the personality of the 
men so closely identified with its development. The Revolution brought 
chaos to the industries of France which had so flourished under the old 
regime. Furniture-makers and metal-workers were thrown out of employment. 
Many suffered imprisonment or death by the guillotine. With few exceptions the 
artist-artisans of the Louis XVI period had little part in the handicraft of the 
Empire. Riesener, escaping the fate of Gouthiere and other famous furniture- 
makers, designed many pieces in the new style, but his name lives in his earlier 
work. The Directory and the Consulate were periods of construction. In the arts 
the process of rebuilding is slow. David's name is associated with this transition 
from old forms to the new, and with him must be mentioned Charles Percier and 
Pierre Fontaine. Percier was architect to Napoleon during the Consulate and 
ranks with Fontaine as a celebrated craftsman of the period. Napoleon was not a 
patron of the arts, yet no monarch of the old regime had so dominated a style. The 
letter "N" is stamped over the entire decorative scheme of the Empire. Conquest 
and victory are spelled in every line. 

Designers of Louis XVI's day lauded the classics, but seldom to the extent of 
the Empire artists and never to the glory of one man. The laurel leaves of the 
preceding style were rearranged and twisted into a victor's wreath. The fluted 
column upheld a torch. Roman and Grecian emblems were used lavishly. "Paris 
was to become a new Athens, Napoleon a Caesar, and France a second Roman Em- 
pire." The craze for the antique transformed the dress of the day. Statesmen wore 
togas and court ladies donned the gowns of Grecian goddesses. 

Architects, decorators, and furniture-makers were imbued with the spirit of the 
hour. The classic lived again and, if somewhat inconsistent, the enthusiasm of the 
day overlooked all shortcomings. 

The chief characteristics of the Empire style were the wreath and torch, the 
Roman eagle, the Athenian bees, the Greek fret, and the honeysuckle. After the 
campaign hi Egypt the sphinx was added to the medley and became a conspic- 
uous feature in both furniture and decoration. Distinctive qualities of the furniture 
of the period are few and easily mastered. Constructively the plain column and the 
claw-foot are the most salient features ; decoratively the wreath and torch are most 

157 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



prominent. Marquetry was discarded and plain surfaces were covered with orna- 
mental mounts of chiseled brass and ormolu. Chairs showed a square frame with 
a plain round leg, ornamented with mounts of characteristic patterns. The chairs in 
Compiegne, illustrated here, are typical of the style. Although imperial pieces- 
they do not differ from the chairs of a private house. They are enameled white 
and ornamented with the Greek honeysuckle. The divan on page 160 has the an- 
tique outlines so affected by furniture-makers. David painted Madame Recamier 
on such a couch, the "Grecian attitude" being carefully preserved. 

The carving of the Compiegne couch is in the "running laurel pattern." It was- 
hard for craftsmen to get away from the bay leaf. When the surface to be treated 
was too small for a wreath, the laurel was introduced in the manner shown. 

Tables may be divided into two general classes those with a center column, 
terminating in a broad base with claw feet, and those of a heavier build, sup- 
ported by sphinxes. The first type is well known in this country through countless- 
" colonial" adaptations. 

Beds during the period of the Empire were stately couches and form striking 
contrast to the luxurious beds of the French kings. Napoleon's bedchamber in 

Fontainebleau shows the ever-present 
emblems of conquest which, even in a 
sleeping apartment, were never absent. 
The torch, the eagle, and the wreath 
are all represented. 

The work of Percier was marked by 
great delicacy, but a large portion of 
the later work of the Empire was clumsy 
and absurd. Commodes and cabinets- 
lost their real significance and became 
mere vehicles for the display of gran- 
diose metal-work. 

Unlike the Louis XV artisans the 
Empire furniture-makers lost sight of 
fitness. " They were too much in earnest 
to be content, as were the artists of the 
old regime, with borrowing the antique 
lines only to playfully transpose them 
by their own genius with a French 
grace and elegance, and to thus amal- 
gamate them with the national style. 
The designers of the Empire were any- 

158 




ROMAN CEREMONIAL CHAIR 



FURNITURE OF THE FRENCH EMPIRE 




BEDROOM OF NAPOLEON I, FONTAINEBLEAU 

thing but playful in spirit. Their antiquity was to be actual antiquity, drawn purely 
from the fountain-head and admitting of no admixture. As the pieces of furniture 
necessary to modern comfort had greatly increased since the days of the ancients, the 
designers, fearful of the risk of departing from precedents, found themselves in a quan- 
dary. Not daring to create they concealed the new constructive lines by an overlay of 
incongruous accessories. The arm-chair was made to resemble the ancient curule seat 

159 




a 

,1 

S 

- 



FURNITURE OF THE FRENCH EMPIRE 



as far as possible, but when arms were to be added, the best that they could do with 
them was to turn them into swans' necks, and support them by cupids. The legs 
of the most harmless tables became bristling griffins. Flaming torches bore the 
cradle of the sleeping babe, a chair rested upon horns of plenty, the bed became a 
barge, its peaceful curtains upheld by sheaves of lances. In a word the designers 
were embarrassed by the self-imposed necessity for torturing the most obvious and 
simplest forms into symbolic paraphernalia of antiquity. Take the clock for an 
example. The dial, ordinarily its most salient and characteristic feature, became a 
mere accessory. It was blushed for as a modern thing and hidden with great 
ingenuity. It started out of the wheel of an antique chariot in which a warrior 
rode. It was set into the rock upon which Telemachus reclined. It became the 
globe which Aspasia carried on her knee." 

In its plainer form the Empire style was full of dignity. If it lacked the charm of 
the graceful Louis XVI style it had, on the other hand, qualities of repose and 
stability which placed it far above some of its predecessors. One of the most inter- 
esting phases was the strong influence which it exerted upon American furniture- 
making of the early nineteenth century. 



161 



CHAPTER XIY 

COLONIAL FURNITURE 



CHARACTERISTICS OF THE STYLE: AFTER PIONEER DAYS THE COLO- 
NISTS MODELED THEIR HOMES ON THOSE OF THEIR NATIVE LAND. 
EARLY FURNITURE WAS THE HEAVY OAK OF THE OLD COUNTRY OR 
PINE AND DEAL PIECES MADE IN THE COLONIES. TOWARD THE 
END OF THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY THE TRANSITION FROM 
MASSIVE TO MORE GRACEFUL FORMS TOOK PLACE. THE INTRODUC- 
TION OF MAHOGANY IN ENGLAND SOON INFLUENCED FURNITURE- 
MAKIXG ON THIS SIDE OF THE WATER, AND FOR FIFTY YEARS 
CHIPPENDALE, HEPPLEWHITE, AND SHERATON WERE THE GUIDING 
STARS OF AMERICAN DESIGNERS. EARLY IN THE NINETEENTH 
CENTURY ENGLISH PATTERNS DECLINED IN FAVOR AND FRENCH 
INFLUENCE BECAME PARAMOUNT. THE EMPIRE STYLE MARKED 
THE END OF COLONIAL FURNITURE-MAKING. 



CHAPTER XIV 

COLONIAL FURNITURE. 

THE term "colonial furniture," used in its literal sense, includes the household 
effects of the colonists from the time of the settlement at Jamestown until 
the war of the Revolution. This restricted definition excludes the work of 
the great English cabinet-makers of the late eighteenth century, and all pieces 
which owe their origin to the style known as the Empire. Thus the furniture 
of Sheraton and Hepplewhite, and the later designs of Chippendale, are debarred 
from the category, together with all those massive mahogany shapes having carved 
columns and claw-feet which have long been the stronghold of colonial collections. 
Correctly speaking, these pieces should be classed as late Georgian and American 
Empire. To limit the adjective "colonial" to the furniture imported or made by 
the colonists prior to 1776 would disqualify more than half of the old mahogany in 
this country. The word has been used so long in a wider sense and has been applied 
so continually to everything in furniture, from the earliest possessions of the Pil- 
grims to the designs in vogue as late as 1820, that it is doubtful if the literal meaning 
is ever accepted. From one point of view the broader use of the term is the right 
one. It was not until 1830 that American furniture-makers ceased to be governed 
by the standards of the Old World. English taste in house-furnishing prevailed 
long after English supremacy was at an end. The colonial period in furniture out- 
lived the colonial period in history fifty years. When black walnut replaced 
mahogany and styles became "indigenous," the last vestige of outside influence 
was over. Then came the decline. 

In the accepted definition two centuries of furniture-making are covered, 
1620-1820. The first hundred years may be called the age of oak, and the second 
the age of mahogany. During the earlier period the history of all handicraft 
in this country was closely allied to that of England and Holland. In the later 
epoch Dutch influence lessened, and England shared with France the honor of 
molding taste in America. 

The early seventeenth century in England was a time of transition. The Tudor 
adaptation of the Renaissance was slowly giving way to the Jacobean. Furniture 
was heavy in every sense of the word and exhibited a combination of styles which 
bordered on the grotesque. A little leaven of simplicity was sadly needed and 
this, later in the century, was provided by the Dutch. When William of 
Orange became king of England, in 1688, the triumph of Dutch designs was com- 

165 




OLD CRADLE, BROUGHT OVER IN THE MAYFLOWER, 
1620. PILGRIM HALL, PLYMOUTH, MASS. 



plete. Holland occupied a unique position commercially. She was in touch with 
the great nations of the world, and wielded a power second only to that of Italy. 
Her ports were open to Spain, Portugal, China, and Japan. Via Flanders came 
French and Italian merchandise. With the accession of William the best that 
Holland possessed passed into England. Furniture-making was permanently bene- 
fited by the introduction of Dutch, Flemish, and Spanish models. In an Anglicized 
form many of these types reached the colonies. In New England styles in furniture 
were of tardy growth. In the south, where a closer touch was kept with England, 
fashions in costumes and in house furnishings changed more rapidly. 

Colonial furniture, from the first, showed a variety of types, for the early settlers 
reproduced as nearly as was possible, in a strange country, the homes of their native 

166 



COLONIAL FURNITURE 



land. The furniture of the Pilgrims was unlike that of the English colonists in the 
south, and each differed from that of the Dutch settlers. Equally distinct were the 
household belongings of the Huguenots in Canada, and they in turn were unlike 
those of the French explorers in Louisiana. The Quaker and Swedish settlers in 
Pennsylvania added still another element. While the English of the south were 
fairly representative of one class, and lived after the manner of their kind in the old 




EARLY NEW ENGLAND INTERIOR, SHOWING PINE SETTLE 

country, there were slight differences between the colonial homes of Virginia and 
those of Georgia and Carolina. After the roughness of pioneer life passed away the 
dividing lines between the English and the Dutch, and between the north and the 
south, became more marked, and remained so until the beginning of the eighteenth 
century. At that time Manhattan had been for some years under English rule, 
and the Massachusetts settlers, with increasing prosperity, were enabled to main- 
tain a more comfortable style of living. 

The early homes of the Pilgrims and the Puritans were sparsely furnished. The 
struggle for existence in those first bleak winters made everything but the bare 

167 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 




SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY CHAIRS 



necessities impossible. Long "settles, 
built with high backs to shut out the 
wind, turned chairs of local workman- 
ship, a few chests, plain deal tables, and 
an occasional arm-chair comprised the 
furnishings of the main apartment in 
the usual New England house. The 
original Mayflower furniture was of 
the simplest description and extremely 
meager. Inasmuch as the Mayflower 
made several voyages between old Ply- 
mouth and new Plymouth, and each 
time returned to America laden with 
household belongings, it is quite true 
that a good deal of furniture "came 
over in the Mayflower/' but it did not 
come on the first passage. In Pilgrim 

Hall are several pieces which may be considered the genuine Mayflower articles. Pere- 
grine White's rude cradle, Miles Standish's ship chest, and the chairs used by Gov- 
ernor Carver and Elder Brewster are among the relics of that memorable first 
voyage. The chairs are noteworthy as they represent the earliest type known in 
New England. They have turned posts and spindles, and are sturdily built. Little 
used by the Dutch and lightly regarded by the southern planters, this severe type 
was the common one in the homes of the Plymouth and Bay colonists. Many of the 
turned chairs w r ere imported, but judging from old inventories, quantities were made 
in this country. 

Among the first trades mentioned in New England records were those of the 
housewright, the joiner, the carver, and the turner. The list of men who earned 
their living by furniture-making was a long one. In the Bay colony were John Dix, 
joiner; William Pettigrew, turner; Increase Allen, carver; Thomas Tarbox, clock- 
maker; Solomon Andrews, turner; Ebenezer Holworthy, varnisher; Martin Rogers, 
upholsterer. In 1642 there were twenty joiners in Boston and over thirty turners. 
In the Plymouth colony Kenelm Wynslow was a prominent furniture-maker and 
was a registered craftsman in 1634. 

Six years after the landing of the Pilgrims a law was passed in which it was 
declared that "no handicrafts men soever as taylors, shoemakers, carpenters, joiners, 
smiths, sawyers, or whatsoever, which doe or may reside or belong to the plantation 
Plimoth, shall use their science or trades at home, or abroad, for any strangers or 
foreigners, till such time as the colony be served." 

168 



COLONIAL FURNITURE 



The boundless forests of New England supplied workmen with oak, walnut, ash, 
hickory, cedar, maple, deal, birch, cherry, and pine. Imported furniture was usually 
of oak, but native pieces were often of the softer woods. Painted furniture formed 
a large part of the turner's stock in trade. To the heavy coats of paint is due the 
preservation of many an old-time chest and settle which would otherwise have long 
since been destroyed. 

Contemporary with the turned chair in England was the wainscot chair made 
of oak, and heavily carved. This chair was too cumbersome for easy transpor- 
tation, and is not enumerated in the earliest inventories. In Salem, 1638, "2 wains- 
coate chairs" were among the household effects of Giles Perkins, magistrate; in 
Boston, 1640, William Pettigrew, turner, advertised "3 wainscoate chairs, with 
cushions"; and in 1643, Deliverance Mayhew, of Plymouth, bequeathed to her 
daughter Patience " 1 wainscoate chair, 6 turned chairs, and 2 joyned stools." 

Less massive than the wainscot chair was the "leather chair" which was of 
Italian origin. It was introduced into England by the Dutch who obtained it from 
the Flemings. The Italian model had the spiral supports of the late Renaissance 
period. The colonial type was substantially built, with turned legs and heavy under- 
braces. Following closely upon the leather chair came the "turkey chair" so 
called from the oriental 
fabric with which it was 
upholstered. This was of 
lighter construction and 
was designed with a greater 
regard for comfort. These 
four styles turned, wain- 
scot, leather, ana turkey 
are mentioned over and over 
in wills and other docu- 
ments. A Boston inventory 
of 1668 includes "2 joyned 
stools, 1 turned chair, 4 
turkey- work chairs, 2 deal 
chests, plain, 1 oaken chest, 
carved, 3 leather chairs, 1 
chest of drawers, cedar, 1 
great wainscoate table." 

The wainscot table was 
a combination table and 
chair. Economy of space, as WAINSCOT CHAIR WITH RUSH SEAT 









FURNITURE OF THE EARLY EIGHTEENTH CENTURY 

well as that of money, was an important factor in early colonial house-furnishing. 
Similar to the wainscot table was the settle- table, a piece of furniture which served 
many purposes. When drawn close to the fireside it made a comfortable seat for 
several people. When the back was lowered and adjusted by means of a wooden 
bolt it formed a dining-table large enough to accommodate an entire family. 
Beneath the lid was a convenient storing-place for household linen and for treas- 
ured pieces of pewter, too valuable for cupboard or shelf. An additional device 
provided the settle with candle-holders, which, with the aid of the fire, enabled the 
sitter to peruse his Bible or almanac. The settle was the most characteristic article 
of early New England furniture. Local workmen evolved a type which English 
designers did not surpass. Severe in line and devoid of ornament it was far more 
beautiful than the imported model. Built of finest oak and carved with rare skill, 
the old English settle wins our admiration, but does not hold the eye and kindle the 
imagination as does the simple one of New England pine. What fireside tales the 
latter suggests! The long winter evening when howling winds accentuated the 
warmth and cheer within; when blazing logs lighted up dim corners, making gold 
the ears of yellow corn hanging from the rafters, and transforming the pewter 
dishes on the dresser into brightest silver! What dreary theological discussions, 
what long political arguments, what Puritan romances are conjured up by the old 
pine settle! 

170 



COLONIAL FURNITURE 



For more than a century this primitive piece of 
furniture held its own against more modern innovations. 
In reality the colonial settle was simply a long chest 
with a back to which side pieces were added. The 
chest in New England passed through many stages of 
development, some of them quite independent of 
English influence. A modification of the chest resulted 
in a low set of drawers. At first one drawer was 
placed beneath the chest, the whole being elevated on 
four straight feet. Then a second drawer was added. 
This piece of furniture was the chest with drawers. 
The next stage was the chest of drawers which came 
into existence about the year 1690. In many cases the 
straight supports were replaced by heavy ball-feet 
the latter having become popular in England. This 
solid ball foot must not be confounded with the claw- 
and-ball which was a later design. One evolution of 
the chest of drawers was the bureau, another was the 
high-boy, a third the low-boy, and a fourth the beau- 
tiful desk of the eighteenth century. 

The desks of pioneer colonial days were in reality 
boxes, known under the various names of "writing- 
boxes," "desk-boxes," and "paper-boxes." They were 
almost exclusively the property of clergymen and town 
clerks. Letter- writing had little part in the busy lives 
of the New Englanders. 

From the many references in early inventories and 
wills to the furniture of the day, a vivid picture of the 
living-rooms of the first settlers is presented. The 
sleeping-rooms of the period are less clearly defined. 
Little mention is made of the bedstead, although allu- 
sions to "feather," "straw," and "flock" beds are 
numerous. From the massive designs in vogue in 
England and Holland the colonial bed of the seven- 
teenth century may be conjectured. Few of these 
heavy structures were imported until after 1650. A 
plainer piece of furniture, following in general lines the 
English model, was made in the Plymouth and Bay 
colonies at an early date. 

171 




SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY CLOCK 



HISTORIC STYLES' IN FURNITURE 





FLEMISH CHAIR, SALEM, MASSACHUSETTS, LATE SEV- 
ENTEENTH CENTURY 

172 



Toward the close of the seven- 
teenth century the bed increased in 
importance. A list of the household 
furnishings of a Salem merchant, in 
1690, included "1 great oaken bedd, 
1 truckle bedd of maple, 1 large sack 
bottom bedd, 6 Camblett bedd cur- 
tains, 2 calicoe bedd curtains, 8 
blankett sheets, 1 paire silk bedd 
curtains." The settee, which was a 
link between the settle and the sofa, 
was sometimes used as a bed. This 
piece of furniture was both of im- 
ported and domestic make. The 
back and seat were usually incased 
in turkey-work. With the exception 
of the arms and braces the entire 
frame was concealed. The construc- 
tion of the colonial settee was identi- 
cal with one type of the Renaissance 
seat. From Italy it passed into 
France, and from France to England. 
Holland had no part in its develop- 
ment. From the Italian palace- of 
the sixteenth century to the New 
England home of the seventeenth 
was a far-away cry and yet, barring 
crude workmanship, the colonial 
bench was a faithful copy of the 
Renaissance design. The Dutch set- 
tlers were unfamiliar with this settee, 
as they also were with the New Eng- 
land settle. Aside from a few pieces 
which were typical of the homes of 
the Pilgrims and Puritans, the Dutch 
colonists possessed a far greater va- 
riety of furniture. 

Life in New Netherlands differed 
essentially from life in New England. 



COLONIAL FURNITURE 



The winters of Manhattan 
were milder and the Indians 
less menacing; but the chief 
difference between the Eng- 
lish colonists of the North 
and the Dutch settlers lay 
in their motives for seeking 
America. The Dutch came 
to colonize; the English for 
religious freedom ; the Dutch 
to found a trading-post in 
the interest of the , West 
India Company ; the English, 
that their children might 
escape the divine right of 
kings. The Dutch were a 
nation of organizers and the 
Manhattan settlers were 
equipped with all the neces- 
sities of pioneer life. From 
the first the privations en- 
dured by the New England- 
ers were unknown to them. 
Their genius for commerce, 
coupled with their, knowledge 
of seamanship, 'robbed the 
long voyage across the Atlantic of half its terrors. Therefore, a close touch was kept 
with the mother country. Returning vessels brought back Holland bricks and tiles 
and in a few years New Amsterdam was old Amsterdam in miniature. While Dutch 
sovereignty extended over a period of less than sixty years, Dutch manners and cus- 
toms left an impress that a century of English rule could not remove. When New 
Amsterdam became New York, and Rensselaerswyck became Albany, it was a change 
of letter, and little else. The English crown was added to the arms of the colony, but 
the Dutch beaver was not displaced, and the loyal Hollanders still sang Boven Orange. 
Madam Knight, a Massachusetts traveler visiting Manhattan in 1704, writes in 
her journal: "The Buildings, Brick generally, are very stately, and high, though not 
altogether like ours in Boston. The Bricks in some of the Houses are of divers 
coullers, and laid in checkers, being glazed, and very agreeable. The inside of them 
is neat to admiration. The fireplaces have no Jambs, as ours have. But the backs 

173 




QUEEN ANNE CHAIR, EARLY EIGHTEENTH CENTLKV 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 




MAHOGANY LOW-BOY WITH CABRIOLE LEG AND CLUB FOOT 

run flush with the walls, and the Hearth is of tyles and is as farr out into the Room 
at the ends as before the fire, which is generally Five foot in the Low'r rooms; and 
the piece over where the mantel should be is made as ours with joyner's work, and 
I suppose fastened to iron rodds inside. The hearths are laid with tyles in divers 
forms and coullers." 

The big fore-room of the Dutch dwelling was a pleasant place with its great 
hearth, its plastered walls, made bright by racks of Delft, and its comfortable, 
substantial furniture. Chairs there were in several patterns, tables of various 
designs, long built-in settles, painted and carved chests, and a great assortment of 
cupboards. Most of these pieces were imported. The trade of the turner and 
joiner did not flourish in Manhattan as it did in Massachusetts. The close touch 
kept with Holland made domestic furniture unnecessary. Many of the chests and 
cupboards were richly carved, some were painted in the bright colors which the 
Dutch loved so well, others were ornamented with marquetry. The various cup- 

174 



COLONIAL FURNITURE 



boards chronicled in New Amsterdam inventories are bewildering. There were 

cupboards for linen, for silver, for Delft dishes; cupboards for hats, for cloaks, and 

for shoes. An important piece of furniture was the kos, or kas, upon which the 

finest marquetry and carving were lavished. The kas was a huge cupboard, or 

press, and was the most characteristic article of Dutch handicraft. Ornamented to 

a high degree, it was often the most sumptuous piece of furniture in the house. 

When inlaid with tropical woods it presented a brilliant appearance and rivaled a 

Dutch tulip garden in wealth of color. 

The kas was handed down from one 

generation to another, and was carefully 

recorded in the wills of the period. The 

widow of Governor Stuyvesant made 

mention of hers in the following manner: 

"To my son, Nicoleas, I leave my great 

kas, or cubbard, standing at the house of 

Mr. Johnannes Van Brugh, together with 

all the China earthen ware lock'd up in 

said cubbard." 

This same Johannes Van Brugh pre- 
sented his daughter Katherine, at the 
time of her marriage to Philip Livings- 
ton, with a superb kas. It has been 
described by Mrs. John King Van Rens- 
selaer, into whose family it passed by 
inheritance. "Th kas is of oak, and 
handsomely carved on the outside, and 
is filled with curiously contrived small 
drawers and receptacles, and had ample 
room for the linen and silver of the house- 
hold of its mistress. The keyhole is con- 
cealed under a swing-cover of wood, 
which, when in place, looks like part of 
the ornamental carving; and the great 
iron key, with its crooked wards, seems 
more fitted to unlock a fortress than a 
marriage-chest." Katherine Van Brugh 
Livingston owned the finest dinner-set 
of Delft in New Amsterdam, numbering 
more than a hundred peices and doubt- 




MAHOGANY HIGH-BOY WITH SCROLL TOP 



175 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



less some of the treasured dishes were 
stored in this great kas. 

Typically Dutch was the slaap-bauck, 
or built-in bedstead, one of the few pieces 
of furniture which was not sent over from 
Holland. This was usually provided by 
the builder of the house. When Oloff Van 
Cortlandt erected a home in the Bowerie 
for his bride, Annekje Lockermans, it was 
stipulated in the contract that special 
care should be taken in making the slaap- 
bauck. In the Cortlandt house, which was 
one of the most pretentious in town, the 
slaap-bauck was placed in the sitting- 
room, and was arranged solely for guests 
who might arrive unexpectedly. It was 
built behind a sliding door, which concealed 
it by day, and which could be lowered 
at night to form a shelf for the mattress. 
In many houses this simple contrivance 
was the only provision made for sleeping. 
The old Dutch slaap-bauck was the ances- 
tor of the modern folding-bed. 

In the small articles of furniture the 
homes of Manhattan were particularly rich. 
Mirrors, clocks, pictures, china ornaments, 
and candlesticks were ordered directly from Amsterdam. The hanging clocks of 
brass were among the most beautiful of the importations. The dials were decorated 
with heraldic devices in color, surmounted by picturesque figures in hammered metal. 
Holland's extensive foreign trade was shown in the bric-a-brac. The china ornaments, 
variously referred to as mantel and chimney images, were of East India origin. Inter- 
esting bits were lacquers from Japan and ivory carvings from China. These quaint 
souvenirs of long sea voyages gave color to the Dutch interiors, and emphasized the 
difference between the homes of New Netherlands and the somber ones of New England. 
Pewter played a prominent part in the interiors of Manhattan. Cupboards and 
racks were filled with bowls and porringers, the latter hanging by their beaten 
handles in precise rows. Proud was the Vrouw of her pewter; prouder of her silver. 
This was not exposed to the view of any chance visitor. Hidden away in heavy 
oak chests were the precious pieces treasured heirlooms handed down from one 

176 




CORNER CUPBOARD WITH SCROLL TOP 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 




generation to another. The 
collection slowly increased, for 
members of the family were 
encouraged to put their earn- 
ings into silver. The money 
thus saved was called "silver 
money," and was sent to Hol- 
land when a favorable occasion 
presented itself. Into the hands 
of some trustworthy sea-cap- 
tain it was given, and after 
many months the little heap of 
coins returned in the guise of 
a beeker, a sugar-box, or per- 
haps a coffee-urn. Then it was 
carefully wrapped and put 
away in the chest, entered in 
an inventory, and mentioned 
later in a will, but not brought 
forth, except to grace a chris- 
tening or a wedding. 

With the coming of the Eng- 
lish settlers to Virginia a much 

more luxurious phase of colonial life came into existence. Under the royal charter land 
grants were extensive and the estates of the Virginia plantation included miles of terri- 
tory. Toward the middle of the seventeenth century the home of the southern colonist 
was one of ease and was closely modeled on that of the English land-owner. Fa- 
vored by climate, and served by faithful slaves, the problems that confronted the 
northern colonist were unknown to the Virginia gentleman. Blessed by wealth and 
education, he had the leisure to cultivate the gentle arts of living. 

Land passed from father to son, each in turn adding to the beauty of the estate. 
American architecture of the seventeenth century reached its height in the mansions 
of Virginia and her sister colony, Maryland. Old letters and inventories show that 
these houses were richly furnished. Mention is made of Westover, the home of 
William Byrd, Esq., with its paneled hall and carved staircase, its dining-room, 
furnished in oak, and its "faire south parlour," hung in silken curtains of Italian 
weave. William Byrd possessed a fine library. His book-plate, executed in the 
Jacobean style, is still preserved. 

Robert Carter, of Carotoman, left a host of memoranda concerning his mode of 

178 



CHIPPENDALE ROUNDABOUT CHAIR 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



living. The upholstery of his sedan chair, 
the pattern of his furniture, the designs of 
his silver, were duly recorded. Thanks to 
these items a vivid picture is retained of the 
southern mansion of the seventeenth century. 
Detailed orders were sent to London mer- 
chants, and the newest styles in furniture 
and table-ware soon found their way across 
the water. 

The carved oak which has been handed 
down in many Virginia families is of unusual 
beauty, and of a character unknown in New 
England. Upholstery was used to a much 
greater extent in the south than in the north. 
"Spanish leather, gold Venetian cloth, red 
Lyons velvet, and green turkey- work" are 
mentioned in a letter bearing the date 1640. 
Furniture showed a great variety of designs. 
Seven kinds of cupboards were listed in the 
inventory of the Fitz-Hugh house. The court 
and livery cupboards mentioned so often in colonial documents of the south, and 
occasionally in those of New England, were carved and paneled in the Jacobean 
style. The prices for some of these pieces were relatively very high. In 1640 the 
values were: "One livery cubbard and shelf, 25; A great cupbart, 38 3s." 

Another piece of furniture which, in the Puritan house, was of rigid simplicity, was 
the " thousand-legged table." or "gate table." This was a peculiarly constructed 
article having many leaves, which were supported by heavily braced legs. In the 
south this table became quite an ornamental affair. Smaller tables were the 
"folding," and "drawing" ones, which were similar in design, but less richly carved. 
Toward the end of the seventeenth century in England the heavily carved and 
paneled pieces were replaced by lighter designs. Chairs were built on more graceful 
lines, tables became less cumbersome, cupboards lost their massive proportions. 
Furniture was constructed with a greater regard for comfort and utility. The new 
designs were easy of transportation, and soon influenced woodworkers on this side 
of the water. The names of the colonial craftsmen had changed. The joiner and 
the turner and the housewright had become the cabinet-maker, the chair-maker, 
and the carpenter. 

In 1690 the "Handcrafts Guild," of Boston, numbered more than sixty men 

180 




RARE CHIPPENDALE CHAIR 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



who made furniture, and 
over forty who were en- 
gaged in the trade of 
upholstering. The execu- 
tion of many of the colo- 
nial pieces is of a high 
order, and bears the test 
of comparison with Eng- 
lish work of the period. 
American woods were un- 
like those of England, 
and this fact makes the 
origin of most seventeenth 
century furniture unmis- 
takable. Two extremely 
interesting pieces intro- 
duced into New England 
between 1680 and 1690 
were the so-called Flemish 
and Spanish chairs. These 
were seldom copied in this 
country, and therefore 
cannot be confused with 
colonial handiwork. 

English furniture-mak- 
ers obtained the designs 
from Holland, where they 
had long been held in 

favor. The original Spanish chair was upholstered in leather; the legs terminated 
in hoof-shaped feet, and the underbracing was carved. The Flemish chair 
had scrolled feet, and the seat and back were of finely woven cane. In being 
transplanted from one country to another these chairs lost many of their 
distinctive features. Dutch designers robbed them of some of their grace and Eng- 
lish woodworkers added several Jacobean touches. Few Spanish and Flemish chairs 
of pure type reached America. In England the characteristics of both were blended, 
and this composite chair was imported in great quantities by both the northern and 
southern colonists. With Spanish feet, Dutch arms, English back, and Flemish 
underbracing, its nationality was somewhat puzzling. The Salem chair, illus- 
trated on page 172, is an excellent example of the Flemish type as it is found in this 

182 




FOUR POSTER, LATE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY 



COLONIAL FURNITURE 



country. The frame of this old piece has the quality of teak, age having toned the 
wood to rich, deep brown. Originally the seat of this chair was cane also, the 
upholstery being added at a later date. 

With the discarding of the great cupboards, the elevated chest of drawers, 
familiarly known as high-boys, came into use. The names "high-boy" and "low- 
boy" are not found in old furniture annals and are of comparatively late date. 
"High chests" and "low chests" are frequently mentioned, and it was by these 
terms that they were known in colonial days. The first high-boys contained from 




AMERICAN KMPIRE TABLE 
183 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 




AMERICAN EMPIRE SOFA 



four to six long drawers and four or more divided drawers, all of which opened with 
brass drop handles. Six turned feet connected by a stretcher formed the supports. 
The tops were straight, and were finished with a heavy molding. Oak and walnut 
were the principal woods used in their construction. An idea of their value may be 
gained from prices gathered from old advertisements. The highest figure is 15, 
and the lowest 2 10s. There was little change in the construction of the high-boy 
until about 1720, when the introduction of the cabriole, or bandy-leg, revolutionized 
this piece of furniture, as it did the chair and the table. Instead of six turned 
supports, the high chest of drawers rested on four slender ones. The stretcher, in 
a modified form, remained, but in another decade it was discarded, and the high-boy 
of 1730 stood on independent feet. The high-boy, page 175, shows the type in use 
at a slightly later date, when the scroll top was introduced. The drawers display the 
fan carving destined to be a feature of so many colonial pieces. 

Mr. Luke Vincent Lockwood has made a careful study of the high chest of 
drawers, and in his book, Colonial Furniture in America presents a detailed his- 
tory of its development. Mr. Lockwood has rendered a service to collectors and 
to all lovers of old furniture, by his scholarly analysis of colonial styles. In speak- 
ing of the high-boy, he says: "The chest of drawers proper has usually four 
drawers, graduating in size from seven to four inches in width; the section above 
the fourth drawer is divided commonly into five drawers; a deep one, ornamented 
with the rising sun, with the space each side of this equally divided into small 
drawers. The table part has a drawer running all the way across the top, and 
under this three deep drawers, the center one also having the rising sun. The large 
majority of low-boys offered for sale are the lower or table part of the high-boys, 

184 



COLONIAL FURNITURE 



and can be distinguished from the table proper by their height and the more sub- 
stantial make of the leg. The genuine low-boy seldom mentions measures over 34 
inches in height; the high-boy tables average about 38 inches. ' The little low-boys, 
to the trained eye, are easily distinguished from the pieces made by supplying a top 
to the high-boy table. It may also be added, that when they are thus separated, 
the chest of drawers is often finished with feet, and offered for sale as a colonial 
bureau." 

A variation of the usual high-boy of 1730 was the type with a blocked front. 
This style is rarely found to-day, but the blocked desks which are of later date, 
convey an idea of the general arrangement of the drawers. With the appearance 
of the scroll top, or broken cornice, the high-boy entered the third period of its 
development. The scroll top was the dividing line between old and new forms. It 
transformed the high-boy into a thing of beauty; it added lightness and grace to 
the cupboard, and it wrought a wonderful change in the desk. Contemporary with 
the scroll top were the delicately carved finials and the finely executed brass handles. 

The tall clock, no less than the high-boy, was improved by the scroll. When 
cabinet-makers discarded the straight cornice, clock-makers followed in their foot- 
steps. Clock-making in the colonies 
forms a chapter by itself. The earliest 
time-pieces were portable, and were of 
English make. Hanging clocks, de- 
scribed in old documents as "lantern" 
and "chamber," were little known in 
New England until the late seventeenth 
century. When tall clocks replaced 
them, the field -for beautiful cabinet- 
work was a wide one. The craft of the 
"clock man" in the colonies developed 
slowly. People of means imported 
their timekeepers; those in humble cir- 
cumstances depended on the hour-glass 
and the sun-dial. The eighteenth cen- 
tury was almost at an end before 
American clock-making reached the 
dignity of an art. The names of Seth 
Thomas and Aaron Willard came into 
prominence about the year 1800. The 
"banjo" clock was made by Willard, 
and was very popular in the early AMERICAN EMPIRE SEWING-TABLE 




186 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



nineteenth century. Chauncey Jerome, at a later date, made the rectangular 
shelf-clock, which is a faithful timekeeper to-day in many Connecticut houses. 

The year 1720 which ended the first hundred years of furniture-making in the 
colonies, was an important date in England. About that time mahogany came 
into use in London. The introduction of this wood has long been credited to Dr. 
Gibbon, an English physician, the story of which has been related in Chapter XII. 

That mahogany furniture was in limited use in the colonies before 1720 is now 
placed beyond a doubt. In the will of John Jones of Philadelphia, 1708, a mahogany 
screen is mentioned, and in a New York advertisement, of similar date, a mahogany 
chest of drawers is offered for sale. The truth of the Gibbon story is open to ques- 
tion, although it is probable that mahogany furniture was little known in England 
before the second decade of the eighteenth century. It was not imported to any 
great extent in this country until after the year 1740. Without mahogany the 
cabriole-legged desks and secretaries, the carved four-post bedsteads, and the 
graceful fiddle-back chairs would not have reached a high degree of beauty. Chair- 
making, especially, was revolutionized by the introduction of this West India wood. 

About the year 1730 "the fiddle-back chair," sometimes called "the Queen 
Anne," sometimes "the Dutch," and again, "the bandy-legged," became popular 
in the colonies. It formed an important link in the history of chair-making and 
marked the dividing-line between the heavily braced types, so long in vogue, and 
the delicately constructed styles made famous by the late Georgian furniture-makers. 
The first Queen Anne chairs imported into New England were made with slight 
underbraces, but in the second style these were lacking. The distinctive charac- 
teristics of the Queen Anne patterns were the cabriole leg, terminating in the flat 
or club foot, the broad splat of the back, and the depressed seat. A fine specimen 
of the second type is reproduced on page 173. This is pure "Fiddle-Back". 

Contemporary with the Queen Anne chairs were the "slat-back" and "banister- 
back" chairs. These were made with seats of rush, and were very plentiful between 
the years 1730 and 1750. In the kitchen of the Whipple house which is illustrated 
on page 177, are two of the "slat-back" designs. Into this old kitchen have been 
gathered many articles typical of colonial days. The collection of flax-wheels, 
churns, lanterns, candlesticks, and pewter dishes rivals that of many a New England 
museum. A "thousand-legged table" is here, and in a shadowy corner may be 
seen a "fan-back" Windsor chair. Quite apart from the other chairs of colonial 
days were the many styles of "Windsors." From 1725 until early in the nineteenth 
century they held their own with far more elegant designs. They were found in the 
homes of rich and poor and were not confined to any one locality. 

The original Windsors were of English make, but American furniture-makers 
perfected several styles. Made of ash and hickory and heavily coated with paint, 

186 



HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 




they have outlived many a 
fine bit of carved mahogany. 
The various American Wind- 
sors were known as "round- 
backs," "fan-backs," and 
"bow-backs," the latter fol- 
lowing in a general way the 
lines of an archer's bow. 
There were "arm-chairs," 
"rocking - chairs," " writing- 
chairs," and "side-chairs" 

,, , ,, , TT . j AMERICAN EMPIRE SOFA 

in the almost endless Wind- 
sor category. One of the sturdy "arm-chairs" may be seen in Washington's 
bedchamber, at Mt. Vernon, which is reproduced in this chapter. 

The year 1760 marked another stage in the history of furniture-making in the 
colonies. In England the great epoch of cabinet-making was at hand that bril- 
liant period, covering less than fifty years, with which the names of Chippendale, 
Hepplewhite, and Sheraton are inseparably associated. Shearer, Ince, Mayhew, 
Manwaring, and Richardson were worthy followers of the three masters, but their 
influence was little felt in America. How many of the Chippendale, Hepplewhite, 
and Sheraton pieces found in this country actually came from the hands of the 
great designers? Their names have become generic terms, sometimes denoting a 
style, sometimes a period. "After the manner of" Chippendale, or Hepplewhite, 
or Sheraton would be a safer way to classify most of the late eighteenth and early 
nineteenth century furniture found in America. Doubtless a great deal of the work 
in England which now bears the names of these men was designed by them and 
executed by others. In this country English models were so carefully copied that 
it sometimes is difficult to locate the makers. Chippendale's influence was strongest 
in America between the years 1760-1780. During the latter decade, Hepplewhite 
was also a potent factor in determining styles in furniture. Sheraton's publica- 
tion, The Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer's Drawing Book, appeared in 1793. From 
that date until the designs of the Empire came into fashion, Sheraton was the 
guiding-star of the furniture-makers in America. 

Fortunately the popularity of Chippendale's Chinese and Gothic styles found 
little echo on this side of the Atlantic. Most of the pieces bearing his name in 
America are entirely free from these absurdities. His early furniture shows traces 
of Dutch influence which lingered in England in spite of newer fashions. He made 
use of the bandy-legged chair, imparting great delicacy to the construction. The 

188 




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HISTORIC STYLES IN FURNITURE 



first Chippendale chairs which were known in America were made with the bandy- 
leg and ball-and-claw foot. The backs were a variation of the Dutch splat, pierced 
and slightly curving. The next type imported showed a more elaborate back, and 
straight, tapering legs. About 1770 a slight departure from the regulation Chip- 
pendale chair resulted in the "ladder-back" design. The supports of this chair 
were straight, and the back was divided with horizontal bars. Mt. Vernon contains 
several of these patterns. In the West Parlor, shown in the frontispiece, a lad- 
der-back chair is placed on either side of the fine Louis XVI fauteuil. 

Many of the "roundabout" chairs designed by Chippendale are admirably con- 
structed. In his hands the heavy Dutch model, the original "roundabout," was 
given a new beauty. The large upholstered chairs of the late colonial period, the 
"wing" and "cozy" styles were not made by Chippendale. Ince and Manwaring 
designed several patterns, which were more common in England than in this 
country. An American type of wing chair is shown on page 181. 

Thomas Sheraton made many chairs and tables, but in this country his fame 
rests chiefly on his sideboards. The urn-shaped knife-boxes which are a part of 
many of these pieces, show how strongly he was guided by the standards of 
the Adam brothers. Most of Sheraton's work in this country is of a high order. 
To many minds the old furniture which bears his name is the finest of all colonial 
styles. 

Four famous colonial chairs are illustrated here. First, the Flemish type; 
second, the pure fiddle-back; third, the Windsor; and fourth the chintz-covered 
"wing." There were several modifications of these types, but they were merely 
In detail. 

After the War of 1812 English patterns declined in favor and furniture-makers 
turned to France for inspiration. The American development of the Empire style 
is a lasting credit to the designers of this country, and forms a fitting close to the 
second century of colonial furniture-making. The table and sofa, pages 183 and 
184, are typical examples of the American Empire and show what spirit could be 
imparted to massive designs. 

While the Empire style in America followed in a general way the trend of the 
movement in France, it was free from the incongruities which marred many of the 
foreign pieces. Carved columns, claw-feet, pine-apple finials, and ornamental 
brasses were the hall-marks of the American Empire. Realistic heads of lions and 
griffins, and the many Egyptian details to which French furniture-makers resorted, 
were happily absent from the work of the day on this side of the water. 

By 1830 the Empire style in this country had run its course. Designs lost their 
vitality and became heavy and ponderous. When black walnut superseded 
mahogany the characteristics which had made furniture-making an art for more 

190 



COLONIAL FURNITURE 



than a hundred years ceased to exist. Varied as were colonial types there were 
certain features common to all. Whatever extravagances marked English and 
continental styles, designs in this country leaned toward simplicity. It is this 
quality that renders colonial furniture as satisfactory to-day as when it came from 
the hands of its maker. 



191 



Acanthus, 33, 37, 42, 97, 104, 106, 111, 123, 

144. 

Adam, Brothers, 138, 140, 144, 150. 
Adam, James, 141, 145, 146. 
Adam Style, 131, 144, 148, 151. 
Alaux, Jean, 57. 
Anne of Austria, 62, 63, 99. 
Anne, Queen, 83, 95, 61, 106. 
Anthemion, 37. 

Arabesques, 33, 37, 38, 42, 53, 144. 
Armoire, 11, 15, 108, 123, 125. 
Arras, 47 
Augsburg, 78, 103. 

Bahut, 4, 15. 
Ball-and-Claw, 133, 139. 
Ball-Foot, 78. 
Bandy-Leg, 133, 184. 
Baroque, 48, 50. 
Bartolozzi, 143. 
Bartolommeo, Fra, 44, 50. 
Beauvais, 63, 128. 
Bedchamber, 4, 6, 16, 41, 63. 
Bedrooms, 6, 16. 
BEDS 

Anglo-Norman, 6. 

Anglo-Saxon, 4. 

Empire, 158, 161. 

Feather, 171. 

Flock, 171. 

Renaissance, 41. 

Straw, 5, 90, 171. 
BEDSTEADS 

Anne of Austria, 63. 

Elizabethan, 90, 92. 

Four-Post, 41, 181, 182, 186. 

Gothic, 16, 41. 

Louis XIV, 106. 

Louis XVT, 125. 

Renaissance, 41. 



Bedstocks, 90. 

Bell-Flower, 121. 

Bess of Hard wick, 86. 

Blois, Chateau of, 56, 57, 60, 66. 

Boheme, Hotel, 20, 21. 

Bookcases, 50, 163. 138, 140. 

Boulle Furniture, 104, 106, 108. 

Bower, 4. 

Bureau, 15, 111, 136, 138, 151 

Bureau-Toilet. 127. 128. 

CABINETS 

Dutch, 72. 

French, 58, 63 

Italian, 39, 

Spanish, 181. 
CABINET MAKERS 

Boulle, 104, 106, 108. 

Caffere, Jacques, 114. 

Caffere, Philippe, 112, 114. 

Carlin, 124, 128. 

Chippendale, 136, 134, 13, K , 136, 137, 138, 
188. 

Cressent, 112. 

Edwards and Darley, 138. 

Gillow, 138, 139. 

Gouthieie, 144, 138. 

Hepplewhite, 136, 139, 145, 15?, 188. 

Tnce, 138. 188. 190. 

Johnson, 138. 

Koek. 91. 

Langley. Batty, 138. 

Langley, Thomas, 138. 

Leleu, 124. 128. 

Manwaring, 138. 188, 190. 

Martin Family, 118. 

Mayhew 138, 188. 

Oeben, 115, 124, 128. 

Richardson, 188. 

Riesener, 114, 124, 126. 



193 



INDEX 



Rontgen, 124, 126, 127. 

Saunier, 124. 

Shearer, 139, 140, 188. 

Sheraton, 139, 140, 141, 145, 188, 190. 

Thomire, 128, 133. 
Cabriole-Leg, 95, 133, 184. 
Cassoni, 42. 

Catherine of Prussia, 128. 
Cartouche, 33, 37, 42, 53, 58, 64. 
Cedric 's Castle, 5. 
Ceil-Cloths, 3. 
Cellini, Benvenuto, 40, 56. 
CHAIRS 

Banister, 186. 

Byzantine, 8, 9. 

Cane, 66, 74, 82, 182. 

Chippendale, 136, 137, 138, 190. 

Coronation, 10, 11. 

Curule, 31, 32, 51, 158, 159. 

Dutch, 186. 

Empire, 158, 160. 

Fiddle-Back, 133, 137, 186. 

Flemish, 66, 74, 95. 

Folding, 16. 

Gothic, 9, 10, 11, 16, 26, 30. 

Hepplewhite, 140, 144. 

Ladder, 137, 190. 

Leather, 169. 

Louis XIV, 106. 

Louis XV, 116. 

Louis XVI, 130. 

Queen Anne, 186. 

Renaissance, 39, 48, 50, 66, 106. 

Roundabout, 137, 190. 

Rush, 186. 

Sheraton, 150, 152, 190. 

Slat-Back, 186. 

Spanish, 82, 182. 

Turkey, 169. 

Turned, 88, 168, 169. 

Wainscot, 88, 90, 169. 

Windsor, 186, 187. 
Chair Cushions, 39. 
Chambord, 55, 56. 
Chandeliers, 64. 
Charles I, 92. 
Charles II, 94. 



Charles V, 62, 71, 81, 85. 
Chenonceau, 55. 

Chests, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 15, 16, 42. 
Chests of Drawers, 41, 169, 171. 
Chimney-Pieces, 57, 86, 136. 
Chinese-Taste, 135, 138, 143. 
Claude, Queen, 57. 
CLOCKS 

Banjo, 185. 

Bracket, 119. 

Brass, 176. 

Empire, 161. 

Lantern, 185. 

Louis XIV, 118, 119. 

Louis XV, 118, 119. 

Louis XVI, 123, 127. . 

Regency, 111. 

Renaissance, 42. 

Scroll-Top, 185. 

Shelf. 186. 

Tall, 185. 

Willard, 185. 

Coffered-Ceilings, 44, 45, 46. 
Coffers, 4, 10, 11, 47. 
Commode, 114, 126, 128. 
Cordovan, 30. 
Corn-Husk, 121. 
Cosimo, Andrea di, 42. 
Couches, 51, 158. 
Credence, 4, 15, 40. 
Cresset-Lamp, 4. 
CUPBOARDS 

Corner, 128, 176, 185. 

Court, 90, 180. 

Dutch, 175. 

Elizabethan, 90. 

Flemish, 30, 72. 

Gothic, 30, 72. 

Jacobean, 94, 95, 180. 

Livery, 90, 100. 

Damiano Fra, 44. 

David, 157. 

Deerfield, Mass., 95. 

Delia Robbia, 36. 

Desks, 50, 171. 

Dorfred House, Chicago, 45. 



194 



INDEX 



Dresser, 4. 

Dressing-Table, 136, 140. 
Dressoir, 15. 
Drop Ornaments, 94, 95. 
Du Barry, 114, 116, 129. 

Edward I, 10, 11. 
Edward III. 
Eleanor, Queen, 10, 11. 
Elizabeth, Queen, 85, 86, 88. 
Elizabethan Period, 85, 86. 
Elizabethan Style, 83, 84. 
Empire American, 161, 190. 
Empire Furniture, 157, 158, 159. 
Empire Style, 155. 
Endive, 109, 111. 

Fadestol, 6. 

Fanteuil, 6, 190. 

Flanders, 18, 28, 71, 74, 86. 

Fluted Column, 157. 

Fluted Leg, 123, 128, 130, 151. 

Fontainbleau, 55, 56, 57, 58, 63. 103, 104. 

124. 
Francois I, 55, 57, 58. 

Gabriel, 129. 

Garde Meuble, 116, 124. 

Garland, 37, 123, 144. 

George I, 133. 

George II, 133. 

George III, 133. S 

Gesso, 42, 52, 152. 

Gibbon, Dr., 133, 134, 186. 

Gibbons, Grinling, 133, 138. 

Gothic Furniture, 8. 9, 10, 15, 16, 25, 28. 

Grand Trianon, 129. 

Greek Band, 123. 

Greek Fret, 37, 140, 157. 

Gruuthuse, 71. 

Haddon Hall, 20, 86. 
Hardwick Hall, 85, 86, 87. 
Hepplewhite, 136, 139, 145, 152, 188. 
Henri II, 55, 58, 62. 
Henri IV, 55, 56, 60, 64. 
High-Boy, 183, 184. 
Honeysuckle, 155, 158. 



Ince, 138, 188, 190. 
Inlay, 42, 81. 
Intarsia, 42, 74. 

Jacobean Furniture, 92, 180. 

Jacobean Period, 92. 

Jacobean Style, 83, 92. 

James I, 92. 

James II, 92, 95. 

Joined Furniture, 90, 169. 

Jones, Ingio, 92. 

Kas, 175. 

Kauffman, Angelica, 146, 152. 

Knife-Boxes, 140. 

Lacquer, 117, 176. 

Laurel Leaf, 123, 157, 158. 

Linen-Fold Pattern, 85, 86. 

Longleat, 85. 

Louis XIV Style, 97, 99, 108. 

Louis XV Style, 109. 

Louis XVI, Style 121, 124, 130. 

Lozenge, 53, 86. 

Mahogany, 128, 129, 133, 134, 152, 186. 

Marie Antoinette, 99, 123. 

Marquetry, 74, 95, 97, 104, 117, 124, 174. 

Martin Family, 118. 

Masks, 97, 104. 

Mazarin, Cardinal, 99, 100. 

Medici, Catherine de, 60, 62. 

Medici, Lorenzo de, 46, 52. 

Medici, Marie de, 60, 62. 

Memorial Hall, Deerfield, 95. 

Meran, Castle, 16, 30, 32. 

Messonier, 112. 

Metal Mounts, 97, 106, 111, 114, 124, 128, 155, 

158. 

Metal Work, 114, 115, 116, 124, 157, 158. 
Michelozzo, 46. 
Middle Ages, 3, 6, 25, 30. 
Mirrors, 42, 176. 
Moorish Ornament, 81. 
Museum, British, 3, 11. 
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 60, 72. 
Museum. Kensington, 20, 127. 



195 



PNDEX 



Napoleon, 157, 158. 

New England, 168, 169, 171, 182, 186. 

Oak, 10, 78, 82, 169. 

Ormolu, 104, 108, 111, 128, 158. 

Paneling, 85, 90, 95, 180. 
Prince of Wales Plumes, 141. 

Quatro-Cento, 37, 48. 

Queen Anne Furniture, 71, 95, 186. 

Queen Anne Style, 95. 

Ram's Head, 97, 104. 
Regency, 111, 113 
RENAISSANCE 

Dutch, 69, 71. 

English, 83, 85. 

Flemish, 69, 71. 

French, 53, 57, 58, 64. 

German, 69, 77, 78. 

Italian, 33, 35, 36. 

Spanish, 79, 81. 
Rococo 

Furniture, 64, 106, 111, 114. 

Ornament, 64, 102, 119. 

Style, 64, 111, 116. 

Salem, 88, 172. 

Saracenic, 6, 7, 8, 78, 81. 

Secretaire, 128. 

Shell Ornament, 64, 97, 109, 111, 112. 

Sideboard, 40, 128, 136, 140, 145, 152. 

Spade-Foot, 131, 140, 141. 

Spanish-Foot, 82, 182. 

St. Martins Lane, 136, 150. 

Strap Work, 58, 85, 86. 

TABLES 

Baroque, 50, 67. 
Bolt-and Slot, 16, 67. 
Chippendale, 136. 
Drop-Leaf, 151. 
Elizabethan, 88. 
Empire, 158. 
Flemish, 72. 
Folding, 180. 
Gate Leg, 88, 180. 



Hepplewhite, 140. 

Jacobean, 88. 

Renaissance, 39, 50. 

Settle, 170. 

Sheraton, 151. 

Thousand-Legged, 88, 180. 

Trestle, 88. 

Wainscot, 88, 169. 
Tapestry, 41, 47, 86. 
Tre-cento, 37, 38. 
Turkey-Work, 169. 
Turned Furniture, 88, 168, 169. 

Valladolid, 88. 
Vatican, 38. 
Vernis-Martin, 118 
Versailles, 100, 101, 104, 106. 
Vincigliata, 41, 43. 
Vouet, Simon, 64. 

Wainscot, 88, 169. 
Westover, 178. 
Whipple House, 186. 
William III, 10, 74, 93. 
WOODS 

Amboyna, 128. 

Ash, 169. 

Birch, 169. 

Cedar, 169. 

Chestnut, 22, 28. 

Cypress, 28. 

Deal, 169. 

Ebony, 108. 

Hardwood, 152, 

Hickory, 169. 

Kingwood, 152. 

Mahogany, 128, 129, 133, 134, 152, 186. 

Maple, 169. 

Oak, 10, 78, 82, 169. 

Pearwood, 152. 

Pine, 169. 

Satinwood, 152. 

Sycamore, 152. 

Tulipwood, 128, 152. 

Walnut, 28, 78, 94, 129, 169. 

Wren, Sir Christopher, 92, 133. 



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